Established 1978

Resolute Retailers

by Rhonda Diaz Caldewey

Retail in San Francisco continues to attract new doors from national and international purveyors, even as city zoning restrains any retailer with more than 11 stores from opening in most neighborhoods—a regulation that continues to discourage many retail concepts from opening new doors in San Francisco.

The zoning does not apply to areas such as Union Square, which has led to one of the lowest vacancy rates and highest average rents on the Square in history—giving even some of the biggest names pause.  In spite of the anti-business climate, the opening of news doors and the game of musical chairs carry on.


Levi’s. Opening in early August, Levi Strauss & Company debuted its 22,000-square-foot store located next door to Old Navy on Market Street and featuring the brand’s various collections: 501 and Revel Jeans, Made & Crafted, and Vintage Clothing lines, as well as its heritage merchandise. A new look for the store includes furniture, fixtures, and artwork by local artists.

Converse. Opening at 838 Market Street, this multi-level, 8,200-square-foot store is the first in Northern California, and the largest of the brand’s five stores in the U.S. Catering to San Francisco’s particular demographic, the store has a section of rainbow-colored sneakers, and t-shirts with slogans such as, “Thanks for coming out.”

Benefit Cosmetics. Hometown girls Jean and Jane Ford opened a flagship Benefit Cosmetics in the former Paul Frank store at 262 Sutter Street. They’ve come a long way since launching their first beauty store in 1976 on Valencia Street in the Mission. The shop also features a waxing and tanning salon.

NARS. Founded by Francois Nars, the cosmetics and skincare brand was launched in 1994 at Barneys New York. With three other stores in the country (New York and Los Angeles), this small gem on Fillmore Street features minimalist black and white décor and makeovers by appointment.

Hudson Grace. Two local retail veterans teamed up to open a home furnishings store on Sacramento Street in Pacific Heights that showcases their line of dinnerware, flatware, glassware, and linen tableware. With a combined history at Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic, The Gap, and Restoration Hardware, the duo, Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton, bring a refreshing new take on craftsmanship and design to the neighborhood.


Scoop. The New York-based retailer will open a 3,200-square-foot store at the former Bebe at 21 Grant Street in Union Square.  The multi-brand boutique with locations across the country is scheduled to open late summer.

Alexander McQueen. The luxury retailer who adorned Kate Middleton on her wedding day will open an 8,000-square-foot store in the former Downtown on Geary Street. The opening is scheduled for October.

Ferragamo. Moving off its existing store facing the Square, Ferragamo will join Brooks Brothers on the first block of Post Street.

Sandro. The retailer is eyeing 2033 Fillmore Street, formerly Hlaska, for its contemporary French line. With 202 stores worldwide, there are only five stores in the U.S.

Apple. With design review conditions underway for their glass maison facing Union Square—including a proposed 80-foot glass wall—Apple hopes to move from its current Stockton Street location to larger quarters.

Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom Rack chose Hudson Pacific’s 901 Market Street property over the ground-up development at Market Street Place, for its new 45,500-square-foot downtown store. This is San Francisco’s second Nordstrom Rack, and will be positioned directly across the street from its full-line store in the Westfield San Francisco Centre. Targeted opening is spring 2014.

Target. Target’s second San Francisco store will open with a 120,000-square-foot space in the fall at Geary Street and Masonic Avenue in October.

Express. Construction is underway on this flagship store at Powell and Geary Streets facing Union Square, with an anticipated opening in the fall. The two-story store will occupy about 16,000 square feet at 301 Geary Street.


Rhonda Diaz Caldewey is a partner with Terranomics/Cassidy Turley, a full-service commercial real estate firm. She directs the urban retail division of Terranomics, a leader in retail and restaurant real estate.


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