The long-delayed Trader Joe’s at 555 Fulton was held up by the Mohammed Nuru scandal and the arrest of a Chinese real estate tycoon, but Supervisor Dean Preston’s office says the building is being sold to “a new owner enthusiastic about bringing in Trader Joe’s.”
Today was supposed to be the day of the big Board of Supervisors committee hearing to get to the bottom of just what the heck is going on at the forever-delayed Hayes Valley Trader Joe’s at 555 Fulton Street. That Trader Joe’s was further delayed when it got mired in the Mohammed Nuru scandal — which brought 14 subpoenas over allegations that billionaire Chinese developer Zhang Li had given Nuru lavish gifts to fast-track permits, and also brought a slew of federal bribery charges alleging the same.
Zhang Li, principal executive of 555 Fulton owner Z&L properties, was then arrested in December on those charges and faces extradition. Not a good look! So District 5 Supervisors Dean Preston had called a 10 a.m. Thursday morning hearing at the board’s Government Audit and Oversight Committee in hopes of getting to the bottom of whether this Hayes Valley Trader Joe’s, with all of its baggage, will ever come to fruition.
But on the eve of the hearing, early Wednesday night, Preston’s office made an announcement of a major “breakthrough.” That announcement said that 555 Fulton’s “current owner Z&L Properties announced today that they are in contract to sell the property to a new buyer, who is reportedly eager to prepare the space for Trader Joe’s.”
“We are encouraged by this progress toward delivering on the promise of a neighborhood-serving grocery store in Hayes Valley,” Preston said in the announcement. “Having a new owner enthusiastic about bringing in Trader Joe’s is a major step forward.”
That press release also contains a statement attributed to Z&L Properties themselves. “Z&L Properties is now in contract to sell the 555 Fulton Street property to a buyer who, once the deal is finalized, will assume the obligations of the lease and has assured us that they are eager to take the necessary steps to bring in Trader Joe’s as soon as possible.”
And for their part, Trader Joe’s has a statement in the release saying, “Trader Joe’s remains eager to open a neighborhood grocery store serving the Hayes Valley community.”
The statement does not disclose a price the buyer paid, nor who the buyer even is, as the press release says that “The potential buyer asked that their identity not be revealed until the deal closes.” The statement attributed to Z&L Properties adds that “we can say with confidence that they have expressed a strong desire to move in Trader Joe’s as soon as possible, and this is specifically a condition of the sale. We expect that the due diligence will require another month.”
So the deal has not closed yet. But interested players are comfortable enough to confirm there is an agreement for the sale of 555 Fulton, and progress on the opening of that Trader Joe’s that was supposed to open years ago. So SFist will again report, just as we did in October 2019. That “New Hayes Valley Trader Joe's Might Actually Happen.”