Whole Foods closes flagship store in SF’s Mid-Market

Grocer cites employee safety and street conditions for closure after 12 months

Whole Foods Market's Jason Buechel and 1177 Market Street, San Francisco
Whole Foods Market's Jason Buechel and 1177 Market Street, San Francisco (Google Maps, Whole Foods Market)

It took just 12 months in San Francisco’s Mid-Market for Whole Foods Market to pack up its premium groceries and close its store, citing safety concerns for its employees.

The Austin-based grocer, after a grand opening last spring, closed its largest grocery store in the city at 1177 Market Street, the San Francisco Business Times reported, citing the SF Standard.

The Amazon.com-owned grocer pointed to deteriorating street conditions around the store as reason for the closure. 

“To ensure the safety of our team members, we have made the difficult decision to close the Trinity store for the time being,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said. “All team members will be transferred to one of our nearby locations.

“If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.”

With much local fanfare, Whole Foods had opened the 65,000-square-foot store last March as a ground-floor anchor to the 14-story, mixed-use Trinity apartment complex.

It was then cited by brokers and nearby businesses as a sign of hope that the blight, storefront vacancies and street safety issues in the Mid-Market would be in the rearview mirror.

Whole Foods called the location its “flagship store” – and a retail centerpiece of the $340 million Trinity Place Phase 4 project, which opened in mid-2021 with more than 500 apartments served by a 1-acre piazza, fitness centers and new sculpture art.

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Other businesses are also leaving Mid-Market, which will see the departure of Block from 470,000 square feet of offices at 1455 Market Street when its lease ends in September. 

San Francisco has poured millions to create cleaner, safer street conditions in the Mid-Market corridor for residents, tourists and businesses.  It has not been enough to keep businesses like Whole Foods open.

“Whole Foods’ closure — together with many other safety-related challenges we’ve seen recently — is Exhibit A as to why San Francisco can no longer afford NOT to solve our police understaffing crisis,” San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who represents the district where the Whole Foods is located, said in a tweet.

San Francisco officials say that the police department is hundreds of officers short of voter-mandated minimum staffing levels as part of the city’s 1994 charter. 

Dorsey and Supervisor Catherine Stefani are working to amend the city charter to have the department fully staffed within five years. The Board of Supervisors recently approved an allocation of an additional $25 million budget toward police overtime and ambassador programs.

Last May, Whole Foods shuttered six markets in four states, including one in Los Angeles, in the wake of Amazon’s $3.8 billion first-quarter loss. The closures come almost two months after Amazon shut dozens of bookstores and gift shops around the country.

— Dana Bartholomew

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