San Francisco mayor backs market lease

05/14/2012 04:50:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Courtesy San Francisco Wholesale Produce MarketSan Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, left, announces his support for a new 60-year lease at the city's Wholesale Produce Market May 14 as Malia Cohen, of the city's board of supervisors, looks on.(UPDATED COVERAGE, 6:45 p.m.) San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee is supporting a new 60-year lease for the city’s Wholesale Produce Market, which would enable the market to pursue $100 million worth of expansion and renovations over the next decade.

The lease proposal is expected to be submitted to the city’s board of supervisors May 15. Lee and board member Malia Cohen announced the plan May 14 at the market.

“A new 60-year ground lease gives us the foundation to go out and make the expansion and improvements,” said Michael Janis, general manager of the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market. “We’ll be financing it from a number of different sources.”

The first order of business is construction of an 80,000 square-foot building, expected to break ground in 2013 and take about nine months to complete.

“This will be a significant phased approach,” Janis said. “We’ll do that first, then over time we’ll make improvements to existing buildings or replace some with new construction.”

Long-term, the plan is to expand the market from about 300,000 to 500,000 square feet and bump sales from $475 million to $735 million, according to a city estimate. Full-time employees are expected to rise from 650 to 1,000.

The reinvestment initiative has been dubbed Growing Our Legacy.

“We’ve been working with the city for well over three years laying out a vision for the market and a lease is part of that,” Janis said. “The city has been supportive of job creation at our market. It recognizes that we play an instrumental role here. The food economy in San Francisco has a lot to do with its tourist economy. Food is an incredibly important part of what draws people to San Francisco.”

The market has been in the city’s Bayview Hunters Point section since 1963. Its 50-year lease is due to expire in 2013.

Distributor GreenLeaf, the market’s largest tenant with 12 stalls, needs more space, said Andy Powning, produce specialist.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” Powning said. “It means most importantly that GreenLeaf will be able to remain at the market and in San Francisco, which we want to do.”

GreenLeaf has more than 150 employees and runs about 36 trucks daily, mostly to foodservice clients. The company implemented its first HACCP food safety program about eight years ago; maintaining it would be easier in an upgraded facility, Powning said.


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