by Thomas K. Pendergast
Big changes are coming to the City Center shopping center, located at Geary Boulevard
and Masonic Avenue, with the Best Buy store moving out in October and three new
buildings coming to the site next year.
Although the location, at one of the busiest intersections in the City, might appear to be a
highly profitable one, it seems this was not the case for Best Buy. For them, the space
within the building turned out to be problematic.
“It’s never an easy decision to not renew a store lease. This was a business decision and
not a reflection on our staff or the hard work they have done,” Boua Xiong, a
spokesperson for Best Buy, said in a written statement. “We know our customers want an
easy and memorable shopping experience. However, the store’s high cost of rent and its
awkward location on the second floor of the retail center could not offer that experience
no matter how much we tried.”
Xiong said the company will concentrate its resources on its two remaining stores in the
“Instead of renewing this lease, we have made significant investments to nearby stores,
including our Harrison Street location and our Colma store,” she said. “These two
locations, and our 18 other big box stores in the San Francisco area, will continue
to serve our customers. In fact, many residents in the Bay Area will still live within seven
miles of a Best Buy store, and customers can also be served through http://www.Bestbuy.com.”
Christopher Conlon, the chief operating officer for the property management company at
the City Center, Acadia Realty Trust, confirmed that Best Buy “never quite did well” in
that space. Although no decision has been made on a new tenant for the center, it is
getting plenty of inquiries, Conlon said. “We are overwhelmed by the positive interest in
this space,” he said. “There’s been a broad range of retailers that have responded. Some
of them only want some of the space but not all. Right now, we’re fielding about 12
different businesses that are considering it.”
Complicating matters, however, are plans to construct three more buildings on the
property, starting next year. Plans for construction are now being reviewed
by the Planning Department.
According to the Planning Department, the proposed project on the 6.6-acre site would
include the construction of one- and two-story horizontal additions, totaling
approximately 7,530 square feet, to the existing two-story “crow’s nest” retail
building in parking Lot D, which sits at the very top of the shopping center.
A new two-story retail building totaling approximately 22,072 square feet, will be built
in parking Lot F, and a new one-story retail building, totaling 3,608 square feet, will be
built on the northeast corner of Masonic Avenue and O’Farrell Street, in parking Lot A.
Furthermore, the project proposes to expand parking Lot B by constructing an elevated
parking deck above Lot A and over the proposed new retail building at the corner of
Masonic Avenue and O’Farrell Street.
The new building slated for parking Lot F would replace 58 off-street parking spaces,
plus another three in parking Lot E. It would be set back approximately 25 feet from the
O’Farrell lot line, with a solid waste enclosure and a loading space screened by
a large landscaped buffer, plus an outdoor seating area located along the street’s edge.
A landscaped pedestrian walkway cuts through the site to connect O’Farrell and Geary
Boulevard, a route currently used by many neighborhood residents seeking a short cut
through the parking area to the bus stop on Geary, according to documents filed
with the Planning Department.
The new building proposed for parking Lot A will replace 19 surface parking spaces.
The expansion of parking Lot B, with its elevated parking deck, will increase the number
of parking spaces in that lot from 81 to 171 and will provide direct access to the second
floor of the main retail building currently occupied by a Target store.
Altogether, the center currently has 640 parking spaces spread across six terraced
parking levels. As a result of the proposed conversion of parking spaces to
retail space, the amount of off street parking would be reduced to 634 spaces. The total
gross square footage of retail use requires a minimum of 721 offstreet
parking spaces. As such, the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process pursuant to
Planning Code (Section 304) would waive the requirement and allow for a modification
to the off-street parking requirement.
The project will also increase the number of bicycle parking spaces from its current nine
up to 23, in secure, weather-protected bicycle lockers, plus an additional 66 bicycle
parking spaces will be added along Masonic and O’Farrell sidewalks.
A dozen new street trees will also be planted along O’Farrell Street. Conlon said they are
still in the process of getting all of the necessary permits, but they will not begin
construction until after the holiday season in order to avoid negatively affecting tenants.
He said construction will be done in phases and they expect it to take a total of about 18
months to complete.
At this time, the City Center is not releasing figures for how much the project will cost.