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San Francisco is losing another Safeway. Here’s why

A exterior of a Safeway with cars to the right.
The Safeway store in San Francisco’s Fillmore District will close in March, and the 3.68-acre property will be sold to a commercial real estate developer. | Source: Google Street View

Employees at the Safeway in San Francisco’s Fillmore District were notified Thursday of the company’s intent to shutter the grocery store in March and sell the 3.68-acre property to a commercial real estate developer.

A Safeway spokesperson confirmed that the grocery chain has entered into an agreement with Align Real Estate, which plans to embark on a mixed-use project containing housing and retail space.

“The developer purchasing the land at Webster Plaza is excited about this opportunity,” Safeway said in a statement. “San Francisco has struggled with housing shortages, and Safeway sees this as an opportunity to positively impact the community and be part of a solution to bring much needed additional housing to San Francisco.”

As part of the sale, the Webster Street Safeway store, which has been a part of the historically Black neighborhood for the better part of four decades, is expected to shut down around early March, according to the company, which said employees would be reassigned to other stores.

“This is a real and rare opportunity to add a significant amount of new homes in this part of our city and even a new grocery store,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “It shows a real interest in investing in housing in San Francisco. This is another big bet on our future.”

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the Fillmore District, told the San Francisco Chronicle that his office was told of the sale of Webster Plaza on Thursday morning and had reached out to Safeway to learn more about the logistics of the sale and if another grocery store would be part of the plan.

“We are extremely concerned with the potential loss of this grocery store in the heart of the Fillmore, and especially the possibility of losing it as soon as March, which we view as unacceptable,” Preston told the paper.

Breed pointed to the much-anticipated planned opening of a Trader Joe’s at nearby 555 Fulton St. in Hayes Valley to fill that gap.

The Trader Joe’s is expected to open in the coming months, the Chronicle was first to report.

The Fillmore District Safeway store that is slated to close has in recent years become a focal point for problems that have plagued the neighborhood. In December 2022, local community members gathered for a town hall meeting calling for more San Francisco police in the neighborhood. The area around the Webster Street Safeway’s parking lot was dubbed “ground zero” for activity from cars blasting music to drug dealers harassing shoppers and conditions like human feces in the parking lot and syringes in planters.

In June 2023, the store briefly began playing intermittent classical music on loudspeakers at all hours of the day in the parking lot in an effort to deter loitering.