Our New Supermarket Could Close Before It Even Opens

The DeLano's on South Van Ness closed exactly two years ago yesterday, striking a blow to anyone looking to buy Fruity Pebbles or days-old bagels past 9pm.  Things were all good within six months, when the British supermarket chain Fresh & Easy (not to be confused with the Mission-based garage rock, produce-free band The Fresh & Onlys) announced they were taking over the space, saving us from the nightmare of walking to Noe Valley to satisfy our not-so-late-night breakfast cereal cravings.

But after 18 months, almost nothing has been done to the space, save a few murals painted along it.  SocketSite got the heads up a few weeks back:

I LOVE [Fresh & Easy] but they just announced last week that they're stalling almost all of their US store openings due to the chain's inability to gain traction and likely won't open more than a couple more in the next year. I think the proposed ones (such as this and the South Van Ness location, which they still haven't begun work on) are unlikely to ever open.

Today, The Chronicle confirms the entire chain is likely to go away:

British supermarket chain Tesco is considering closing down its 200 American Fresh & Easy grocery stores - 19 in the Bay Area - after they failed to deliver acceptable shareholder returns, the company announced Wednesday…

Officials are not giving a timeline for the review, but have hired a private firm to assist them with the study and hope to announce some of its findings in April. In the third quarter this year, Fresh & Easy's sales fell 2 percent, according to the company.

Turns out spending $1.6b to open 200 stores near lousy housing developments before the subprime mortgage crisis hit ended up being a bad investment. Crazy.

Anyway, considering it was taking Fresh & Easy over two years just to get through the permitting process to open, we could see a real grocery store open in the neighborhood as soon as 2016.  Maybe that Rainbow Annex everyone has been dreaming about?

San Francisco's Solution to the Housing Crunch: Parking Space-Sized Apartments

Searching for an apartment has been an increasing bummer in recent years, with average neighborhood rents increasing anywhere from 14 to 135% in the past year and landlords requiring prospective tenants to bid on apartments.  However, Supervisor Scott Wiener's proposal to amend the city’s building code to bring the smallest legal living space to just 150 square feet is just depressing.

The proposal, which the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on tomorrow, is seen by Sup. Wiener as a “smart way” to deal with the city's housing shortage as our vacancy rates near 0%.

These “affordable by design” units are also being pushed by Patrick Kennedy, a Berkeley developer and owner of Panoramic Interests, who wants to build “broom closets in the South of Market area” for young techies to work in.  In an interview with the San Francisco Public Press, Kennedy spoke about how these Zynga slave quarters could help prevent the so-called “cannibalization of family housing”:

There’s always going to be two to three young techies who can pay more than your average family,” Kennedy said. “When tech workers can’t find housing, they bid up the housing for everyone else.”

Kennedy took Fair Companies, a sustainable technology blog, for a tour through one of the trial units, which, as SF Public Press points out, is “a little larger than a standard San Francisco parking space.”

Of course, the reasoning doesn't quite add on up this one.  Why would “two or three young techies” all pulling in $80k each want to live in a wiener-sized dorm room?  Gail Gilman, executive director of the nonprofit developer Community Housing Partnership, isn't buying it either:

But Gilman said for-profit developers want to build smaller units mostly because it’s good for their business. Multifamily housing is less lucrative because there are fewer families that can afford to pay for large apartments at the rates landowners would like to charge per square foot.

Shame on Scott Wiener for initiating this BS.

[SF Public Press]

Seven-Year-Old Mission Mural Destroyed by Vandals

DVTDL? reports:

So someone completely destroyed the mural on 17th street between Alabama and Florida over the weekend. The mural was just over 7 years old, and was made by local artists.

While walking by today I took a quick series of the damage with my cell phone. I  quickly pasted them together to give a sense of the damage. It’s pretty unreal. […]

I think the reason this makes me so upset is twofold: 1) I know several of the artists. 2) There is a huge blank white wall just across the street. Dude(s), tag that instead of the mural.

That is all.

I'll spare you the usual “good vs. bad graffiti” debate, as I'm pretty sure we have our minds made up about that.  Instead, here's a couple of shots of the mural, as seen in better days: