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In Potrero Hill, 395 homes pruned for SF Flower Mart instead

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Gardening plot afoot

San Francisco Flower Market Faces Closure Amid Potential Purchase From Realty Company Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s a classic good news/terrible news scenario.

The good news is that after many years of wrangling, developers have found a new location for the beloved San Francisco Flower Mart, currently located at Sixth and Brannan.

And the not-so-good news is that the upcoming locale comes at the expense of a huge chunk of housing in another neighborhood, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Although, in truth, those units may already have been killed off by the trifecta of SF housing nemeses: delays, soaring costs, and NIMBYs.

Developer Kilroy Realty Group struggled to figure out where to relocate the SF Flower Mart after promising not to trample the longtime SoMa institution as it redevelops Sixth and Brannan into a new mixed-use development.

To those unfamiliar with the years-long saga it might sound absurd, but it’s the ultimate San Francisco neighborhood story: the Flower Mart has been a mainstay since 1924 (although not in this same location). It became a favorite of neighbors particularly during years when SoMa had a seedier reputation than it does today. Even Martha Stewart featured it on her titular show.

The flower purveyor is also one of the last of its kind anywhere, billed as “one of only five grower-owned wholesale flower markets” in the country. Over 50 vendors rely on the SF Flower Mart for business.

Kilroy had no choice but to work to save the Flower Mart, as there’s no way SoMa residents (or anyone at City Hall who feared backlash) would stand for anything else. But where to put it?

For years the developer intended to simply build a new Flower Mart on the same spot. As recently as 2018 the plan was to move it to Bayview in the meantime, the move back when the new building is finished.

But now it looks like the SF Flower Mart will caravan to 901 16th Street and 1200 17th Street in Potrero Hill, a pair of underdeveloped lots near Mission Bay that the company bought for a combined $99 million.

Which is all well and good except for one thorny issue: It will rise on a lot originally planned for 395 homes, a project that the city approved years ago.

Kilroy’s vision for the current Flower Mart location.
Via Kilroy

However, in 2016, anti-development groups Save the Hill and Grow Potrero Responsibly sued developer Prado to stop construction. While the lawsuit proved unsuccessful, the years-long delay it created stalled the project, which now cost considerably more than previously planned.

So Prado sold to Kilroy, who will now use the property to transplant their Flower Mart problem. The only losers: Anyone hoping for housing.

For their part, Grow Potrero Responsibly have called this one a win, predicting that the SF Flower Mart will generate less traffic despite its popularity.

The group also projects that Kilroy could opt to build more homes in place of the original SF Flower Mart location, which for now is speculation.

If approved, Kilroy expects the new SF Flower Mart could be up and running next year.