There was some breaking news Thursday via a source with insider IKEA knowledge that the mall complex on SF's Market Street between Fifth and Sixth streets is going to come alive sooner than we'd last heard.
The SF Business Times has the scoop, via "a source with inside information regarding developer Ingka Centres," that the much-awaited Livat mall complex, or at least the anchor IKEA store, is readying for a May opening.
Casual observations of the place with plenty of boxes being unpacked visible in the windows in recent months made it look like an opening could be more imminent than the "late 2023" timeline we'd heard earlier.
Per the Business Times, interior architects Gensler have been working on the buildout of the 87,000-square-foot, urban IKEA store since August (and some sort of construction began inside a full year ago). Plans for the $10.6 million buildout were filed earlier last year. The store will occupy portions of the ground floor and second floor of the complex, as well as the entire basement level, we're now learning.
The rest of the ground and second floors will be occupied by a food hall of sorts, but details about that, and the tenants, sound like they are still being ironed out. Other Ingka Centres complexes have something called Saluhall, which they say on their websites "reinvent[s] the food court recipe." The concept seeks to create a social and community space that is not just a food hall — and it will also host public lectures, cooking classes, and more.
"We developed the Saluhall concept to be a joyful community experience," says Ingka Centres’ Commercial and Digital Director, Jens Nielsen. "As people come back together and enjoy spending time with each other, the demand for food halls is on the rise again. The flexibility of Saluhall offers people the freedom they look for, and the ability to experience life together. We want it to be about a whole lot more than what’s on the menu – a modern and original twist on the traditional food hall; providing local communities with a place to meet, while eating delicious food and socialising together in an even more inclusive and sustainable way."
While we don't yet know who the vendors will be, the company says that all vendors will have to "subscribe to a manifesto and guiding principles that favour plant-based options, regenerative agriculture, seasonal and local ingredients." And the company's food and beverage lead Stéphane Keulian says that their food halls will "reflect the four cornerstones of Nordic street food – bakery, beer, burgers and ice-cream, updating them to match local tastes and modern sensibilities."
The company has reportedly not decided whether the food hall in this complex will be called "Saluhall" or something else, perhaps more American sounding.
The only other potential tenants in the complex that we know about are golfer Rory McIlroy's upscale mini-golf chain The Puttery, which we heard last summer was interested in the space; and New York-based co-working company Industrious, which the Business Times reported is interested in a space on the fifth floor.
Other Livat complexes in Europe have also featured co-working spaces, so that appears to be part of the larger concept.
Ingka Centres, the retail-development arm of Ingka Group, of which IKEA is a part, has now built 52 shopping centers with anchor IKEA stores in 15 countries across Europe and Asia. We learned early in the pandemic that the company had signed on to take the beleaguered and never occupied six-story mall on Market Street, the construction of which was completed in early 2016. Ingka Centres bought the building about two years ago for $200 million, with an initial plan to be open by late 2021.
Originally conceived as a value-oriented shopping center with either Target or JC Penney as an anchor tenant, the building has sat empty now for seven years. In late 2016, developers rebranded the building as 6x6, referring to its location near Sixth Street, but deals with major tenants never arrived, all while the large LINE hotel and Serif condo complex was beginning construction across the street. Sometime later, the building was marketed for potential office use, as office space was at a premium pre-pandemic.
The Business Times' source says that Ingka Centres is deliberately taking its time signing leases, as they want to insure the best tenant mix that fits with the Livat concept.
The food hall and the rest of the mall is likely to be open sometime around late fall.
Rendering via Gensler Architects