The Trader Joe's that nearly everyone in the Hayes Valley environs is jonesing to shop at will not become a reality until late next year or even possibly early 2023, according to a newly released timeline from the company.
It was November 2019 when Trader Joe's got its formula retail exception approved by SF's Planning Commission to move into the ground floor of 555 Fulton Street. And this was after a false start by Portland-based New Seasons Market — which had been approved to move into the space in 2017 with the intent to open by 2018, before the company backed out of its California expansion plans. Talk about a grocery store in this particularly food desert goes back nearly a decade to when 555 Fulton first got its planning approvals, and the neighborhood is more than fatigued with the delays. (The building itself had construction delays, and then became embroiled in the City Hall corruption scandal, but that doesn't have much to do with the snail's pace of SF's approvals process in general.)
As Socketsite reports today, TJ's is inching ahead and has now officially submitted its plans for the 17,000-square-foot store at Fulton and Laguna to the city. They're saying the build-out will take 14 weeks to complete once all the approvals are in, but the current estimate for getting all those approvals signed and sealed is now "mid-2022" at the earliest. That puts the store itself opening likely in the early months of 2023, if we had to guess — or by the holidays in 2022 if all goes exceeding well and fast, which it never does.
At least the company already got its conditional use approval a year and a half ago, in order to be exempt from the formula retail ban in Hayes Valley that would prevent any chain with more than 10 locations worldwide from opening there.
Trader Joe's has been at the center of neighborhoods' conflicts in the past in SF, even though it seems like everyone may want one of these stores nearby.
Some in the Castro and Duboce Triangle neighborhoods are still smarting from a fight over a Trader Joe's a decade ago — remember how the store was a candidate to move into the former Tower Records space on Market Street, which then became a CVS and more recently a Barry's Bootcamp? Yeah, that never happened because of arguments about parking and supply truck traffic, and the retail situation in the neighborhood has never looked bleaker.
At present, Trader Joe's has six locations in San Francisco, including the mini-sized basement location at 4th and Market that debuted in early 2017.