A southern California coffee company plans to open a location in the Castro along upper Market Street.
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, which opened its first store in Brentwood in 1963, is eyeing the now vacant space where Vibrant Health Vitamin Center had operated at the corner of Market and Noe Streets. According to the beverage company’s website, it is the oldest and largest privately held specialty coffee and tea retailer in the country.
The building at 2301 Market Street (seen at right) had been the longtime home of the Gold’s Gym Castro branch. But due to the gym chain’s parent company’s donations to anti-gay causes, the holder of the local franchise ended its relationship with Gold’s last month and is now known as Fitness SF.
As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a recent story, plans to remodel the two-story structure to expand the gym and add rental housing had been shelved due to the dispute with Gold’s. Now that the gyms are under local control, the SOMA Gold’s also switched to Fitness SF, the family that owns them is once again pursuing zoning changes for the site to allow them to proceed with their construction plans.
In the meantime, it was announced this week the Coffee Bean chain is pursuing the necessary permits to open its fourth San Francisco branch. It recently opened a store at the corner of Montgomery and Bush in the Financial District and has two other downtown locations.
Officials with the company based in the Bay Area did not immediately respond to an emailed interview request. It is unclear how soon the Castro location will go before the city’s Planning Commission to obtain the necessary permits to open.
It could face opposition from local residents who are increasingly concerned about seeing formula retail move into prominent storefronts along the upper Market Street corridor. Proposed Starbuck’s and Chipotle outlets seeking approval for corner locations in the area are facing opposition.
City planners reportedly have concerns with a CVS branch going into the shopping center kitty-corner from where the Coffee Bean wants to open. The space at Market and Noe once housed a Tower Records but has been vacant for years.
Bank of the West recently won approval to go into the new mixed-used building under construction at the same intersection. It did so only after the bank and the developer agreed to reconfigure the retail space to allow for smaller leases intended to go to locally-owned stores.