The nearly seven-year saga of a Whole Foods trying to move into the long-vacant Best Buy at Anza Vista’s City Center plaza could be ending with a fizzle, as the Amazon-owned grocery chain themselves appears to be pulling the plug on the project.

The old Best Buy at the City Center plaza at Geary Boulevard and Masonic Avenue closed back in 2017, and the whole plaza has been something of a retail graveyard with the additional losses of Sears, Mervyn’s, and Toys 'R' Us. But Whole Foods has had plans to open a grocery store there pretty much that entire span of time. After many starts and stops, that Whole Foods won City Hall approval this past February, so it seemed like just a matter of time until that long-empty space would be up and running with paleo rotisserie chickens flying off the shelves.

Not so fast. The Chronicle breaks the news today that Whole Foods may be backing out of the project, leaving the 50,000-square-foot space potentially empty for lord knows how many more years.

There is no official word on this. But the Chronicle says that “Multiple people familiar with Whole Foods’ real estate strategy told the Chronicle the project is no longer active.” Additionally, the Chron has sources telling them that the space is “reportedly available for leasing,” and that Whole Foods has not filed any construction permits on the space, even though they’ve got their hard-earned approval to do so.

A Whole Foods representative told the Chronicle “We will let you know if we have updates to share.” If they wanted to shoot down this idea that they were pulling out of the project, you’d think they would have done so.

Whole Foods is reportedly still paying rent on the space, so that’s at least good for the property owner Acadia Realty Trust, if not the Anza Vista community. But some people are of course upset with this development.

"This news is a gut punch for blue collar workers and the local contractors who drive our construction economy,"  SF Building and Construction Trades Council Rudy Gonzalez told the Chronicle. "Now is the time to bet on San Francisco."

That’s funny, because it was the unions who tried to block this very Whole Foods back in 2020, essentially throwing a three-year curveball at the plan. Fellow City Center plaza tenant Target also tried to block this Whole Foods right when the plan was announced in 2017, because Target also sells groceries.

Whole Foods survived these challenges, but now it seems they’re pulling the plug themselves. The Chron has some informed speculation, pointing out that the Amazon-owned grocer is pivoting toward smaller “quick-shop store format” stores that are  only a fraction of the size of a traditional Whole Foods market. The first of these is slated to open in Manhattan this year, and the company says that the company “plans to bring the format to other cities across the country.”

This news obviously comes on the heels of Whole Foods closing their Eighth and Market streets store barely a year after it opened, as that store just may not have been a great idea in the first place.

Related: SF City Hall OKs Whole Foods Moving Into the Long-Empty Former Best Buy at Geary and Masonic [SFist]

Image: Alvin J. via Yelp