Word came down Friday, June 14th from SF Planning Department that Chipotle’s application to put a new restaurant in the old Home local, 2100 Market Street, at the intersection of Church and 14th Streets has been denied.
As the Biscuit has been posting Chipotle announced last year that they wanted to open one of their chain, Mexican, formula retail eateries on the iconic business corner at the foot of the Castro.
Neighborhood business and citizens quickly chose sides in the matter and a contentious, straining and often acerbic political tug of war regarding the issue ensued.
Some members of the local Castro business community* and ‘Stro residents at large welcomed the Denver based, Gay owned corp to the space with open arms. They believed having any business-especially one with such a proven track record-in the 2 year shuttered, former Home restaurant space as a step in the right direction for the Castro and a good start to relieving it of an unused and empty eyesore.
Chipotle rendering of the new space on Church & Market.
Other community members composed of both private citizens, businesses and the well-organized, Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA) fervently opposed Chipotle’s incursion. They cited concerns that the Mexi-mega chain who’s already well established throughout the City presence on the corner would choke the life out of small, local, nearby SF based, Mexican restaurants like the popular Chilango and signal the go ahead to countless other formula retail giants who’ve expressed interest in opening in the Castro.
In the end City Planners stuck with the recently approved, Wiener backed, Castro business and neighborhood association supported, retail formula, Castro development initiative plan: no more than 20% formula retail allowed within the neighborhood within 300 feet of any new applicant.
According to the official SF Planning Dept. staff report putting a Chipotle at that corner would increase the formula retail commercial frontage to a 36% concentration of formula retail use-nearly double the agreed on percentage for the ‘hood.
Birds eye view of the new Chipotle lay out.
On Thursday, June 20th, Chipotle will appeal the Planning Dept. decision, but, as this same path to approval was just denied coffee mega-corp, Starbucks request to open at nearby Sanchez and Market in the industrialist’s space things don’t bode well for the Colorado burrito giant.
In the end, despite all the inroads made by Chipotle’s public relations firm, Berg Davis Public Affairs-chip and guac give-a-ways, June 8th’s free, food and music party, Cultivate Festival, in Golden Gate Park, and ‘Support Chipotle in the Castro’ online petition-the City stated;
“The project would be detrimental to the neighborhood by occupying a prominent corner lot with a formula retail use that uses standardized color schemes, decor and signage that will detract from the distinctive character of the Upper Market Neighborhood which includes primarily local, independent retail businesses.”
In recent comments on another Castro Biscuit post regarding Chipotle Wendy Mogg, DTNA and the CBD member, made mention other offers for that space had been made before Chipotle’s expressed interest. Lets hope they return and deals can be struck quickly.
The one thing both sides agree on is that the neighborhood doesn’t need any more empty store fronts. Creative, outside the box thinking needs to be done by all invested in this neighborhood issue to reduce their number before thousands of square foot, string of mixed use projects along Market Street in the Castro are completed flooding the market with even more retail property to let.
*CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this post I attributed Dist. 8 Supervisor Mr. Wiener was ‘for’ Chipotle placement in the Castro. I was misinformed, and in turn, misinformed you. Mr. Wiener contacted me and stated emphatically that wasn’t the case. My information source was mistaken and compounded it by being remiss in not clearing it via his office before running this post. I apologize if this caused the Supervisor any stress and offer my sincerest apologies. This reflects on me alone and not the Castro Biscuit as writers submit independent of each other.