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Trader Joe's Is Jonesing for an Empty Spot On Market & Noe

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After a failed bid to take Chase Bank's current spot on 15th and Sanchez, Trader Joe's is aiming to create a holy trinity of grocery shopping by leasing the entire ground floor of Market & Noe Center, the former home of a Tower Records. That would make it chain supermarket No. 3 in the area, after Safeway at Church and Market, and the Whole Foods planned for Dolores and Market. The move would kick out the existing Radio Shack (to another nearby location), as well as three local businesses. But the owner of the building has been eager to rent out the anchor space for a good three years now, and this, he believes, is his chance.

As usual, nightmarish visions of the traffic backup at the Trader Joe's on Masonic are already making their way through conversations— that TJ's having become the ultimate case study in how not to do it. And also as usual, the rather "emotional" issue of the chain store in San Francisco takes stage again. While Trader Joe's, which sounds to be rather far along in its negotiations for the spot, will reside on the same street as Safeway and Whole Foods, this one will be just a few blocks deeper into a neighborhood where sensitivity to chains runs a few degrees higher than your average San Francisco.

The Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association raises the issue of "desirable and undesirable" chain stores: Levi's and Peet's being examples of wonderful chain stores, and Walmart being the easy example of a nefarious one. Trader Joe's, the president of the association seems to imply, may be one of the good guys. But in discussing a chain store, the "necessary and desirable" benchmark the city's Planning Commission sets is inevitably raised. Could a TJ's three blocks away from Safeway and Whole Foods possibly be both necessary and desirable? Or might we just be thinking about their Two Buck Chuck?

Bevan Dufty, supervisor for the area, has staked a position in favor of the TJ's, saying that the grocer sees it as a "walking neighborhood store." To promote less car-driven shopping, Dufty "will promote an effort to get households to acquire rolling carts that make it easier for all of us to shop there without relying on autos." Rolling carts! Now for the hip young Castro set.
· Duboce Triangle Newsletter: Oct-Nov 2009 [DTNA]
· Rendering Reveal: Whole Foods Greens Dolores [Curbed SF]

Trader Joe's

1095 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109