Responding to outcry from the community and clearly some pressure from the city, Safeway now says it will keep its Fillmore District store open until early next year (at least).
Many Fillmore neighborhood residents and city leaders alike were blindsided by a January 4 announcement that the area's only grocery store, the Safeway at Fillmore at Geary and Webster, was abruptly going to close in March after over 40 years in that location. The company has reportedly entered into a deal to sell the entire property to a developer who has plans to redevelop the whole 3.68 acres into a massive residential and retail complex.
But we all know that such projects take years to even break ground in this city, so the closure announcement felt especially cold to many — including Supervisor Dean Preston, who immediately said he'd be trying to get Safeway to reconsider the timeline at least.
Mayor London Breed, who grew up in the neighborhood and has deep ties there, initially came out with a statement supporting the development project and telling residents they'd soon have a Trader Joe's to shop at — in Hayes Valley.
But now Safeway says it will delay its closure until January 2025, and both Preston and Breed are trying to take credit for this.
"We have really good news to share," Breed tweeted Monday morning, along with video of herself speaking at the store. "The Fillmore Safeway will stay open & extend services for this community, home to senior citizens & families, through early 2025. This gives us more time to explore what’s next for the site, including more housing & bringing a new grocery store."
We have really good news to share. The Fillmore Safeway will stay open & extend services for this community, home to senior citizens & families, through early 2025. This gives us more time to explore what’s next for the site, including more housing & bringing a new grocery store. pic.twitter.com/QlXRnxX98S— London Breed (@LondonBreed) January 22, 2024
Preston's office sent out a release Monday, noting that Safeway's announcement comes one day before the supervisor was going to be bringing a resolution to a vote at the Board of Supervisors urging the company to delay its closure. Preston introduced the resolution four days after the closure announcement. Ahead of that vote, Preston was planning to hold a rally with community members at the store Tuesday morning.
"As soon as we heard Safeway’s announcement to close in less than 60 days, we said clearly, and unequivocally – not here, not now,” Preston said in a statement. "I am thankful that Safeway has listened to the hundreds of community members who demanded they reverse plans to close a critical location to so many of our vulnerable community members."
"Safeway’s decision here is an important first step to making sure plans for this site do not harm the community," Preston continued. "We urge Safeway and any buyer to work collaboratively with community members and city leaders on a real plan for this important site in the heart of the Fillmore."
Safeway issued its own statement saying, "We have decided to extend the closing date to January 2025 to give the community and the City more time to establish a transition plan. Beyond the closure, we will continue to serve this community with our grocery delivery services and will work with our customers to transfer their prescriptions to another Safeway location or a location of their choice. We remain committed to serving San Francisco at our remaining 15 locations."
The proposed developer of the site, Align Real Estate, will now be working to submit its plans to the city for, potentially, over 1,000 housing units and ground-floor retail. They say they plan to include a new grocery store in their plans, but there is no timeline yet for the completion of construction.