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Hearing called over stalled San Francisco Trader Joe’s plans

Supervisor Dean Preston | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

A San Francisco supervisor has called for a hearing into the yearslong fight for a new grocery store in Hayes Valley.

Trader Joe’s has special city permission to open a new location on the ground floor of a completed 139-unit condo building, located at 555 Fulton St. in Hayes Valley. The stalled plans come as the condo’s developer, Z&L Properties, is mired in an international corruption scandal.

Z&L Properties has been accused of dragging its feet by the local neighborhood association, who say $1 million worth of works need to be completed before Trader Joe’s can move in.

Z&L is owned by Hong Kong-listed R&F Properties, which is partially owned by Li Zhang, a Chinese real estate tycoon who was arrested last year in London for alleged corruption involving San Francisco city officials. Zhang is accused of bribing officials to obtain construction project permits.

The 555 Fulton St. building at Laguna Street | Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images | Source: Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Zhang was released on bail worth $18.4 million and is currently on house arrest in a 43rd floor London apartment, Bloomberg reported.

Supervisor Dean Preston announced Tuesday the city would hold a hearing into the stalled Trader Joe’s fiasco.

“We need answers,” Preston said. “If there are legitimate reasons for not moving forward, let’s hear them. But delaying without a public explanation is not acceptable. This space has been vacant for too long already, and we want to see it activated.”

Preston expects to schedule the hearing in March.