At its meeting this afternoon, the San Francisco planning commission unanimously approved a food emporium concept for a new mixed-use development in the city’s gay Castro district.
As the Bay Area Reporter had noted on its blog last December, developer Forest City Development intends to house a “market hall” in a single 3,895 square foot space on the ground floor of its new building at 2175 Market Street at 15th Street.
“I am very comfortable and delighted to support this proposal,” said planning commissioner Kathryn Moore.
It is modeled after San Pedro Square in San Jose and the market stalls inside the Ferry Building along San Francisco’s waterfront. A similar proposal is being sought for Twitter’s building at Market and 10th Street.
According to a planning staff report, the “market hall” concept is aimed at creating “a one stop market place featuring multiple local businesses in a shared space. Similar to the Ferry Building or a European-style market place, the market hall is expected to feature local businesses that complement each other and provide neighborhood serving goods and services.”
The vendors for the space have not been chosen, though a bar is envisioned to take over part of the hall. The developer agreed to a clause pushed by neighborhood leaders to not lease the entire space to one vendor.
“Market halls have proven to be successful throughout the city, country, and the whole world. We think this provides a platform for smaller local businesses to thrive in kiosk sites,” said Katie O’Brien with Forest City Development.
The marketplace could also “function as a community gathering place for the celebration of local culture and products,” added the staff report by planner Michael Smith.
“The project is a unique way to create lower cost business opportunities for smaller local businesses to share overhead costs for a single retail space,” concluded Smith. “The project would provide a distinctive shopping experience that is not currently available within the district.”
In the event that the “market hall” retail concept does not materialize, the developer had sought permission to seek a restaurant to use up to 2,999 gross square feet of the ground-floor retail space. But due to neighborhood concerns, that idea was dropped.
A restaurant, as yet unannounced, has already been approved to move into the corner ground floor space adjacent to the market hall area.
Due to neighborhood concerns, Forest City also agreed not to lease the space to a formula retailer should its market hall idea fail. Its permit includes language restricting such usage for the retail area.
The project consists of 88 rental units split between two separate buildings on the site of a former gas station with 44 parking spaces. When it opens later this fall, the new building will set aside 27 percent of its apartments as below-market-rate units.