Whether large retail stores are a right fit for South San Francisco is a question staff will research over the next 45 days during a city-wide ban on new such businesses approved by the City Council Wednesday.
Conversations about big box stores started in South San Francisco late this summer when rumors began to circulate that Walmart was interested in moving into the Lowe’s location east of Highway 101. As a result, the council conducted an analysis of the impact the opening of a superstore would have on other retail establishments in the city. On Wednesday, the council agreed to a 45-day ban on large format retail stores throughout the city and grocery uses east of Highway 101. During that time, city staff will study the city’s land use regulations and possibly suggest changes.
While both Walmart and Lowe’s have denied the rumors, a representative from Lowe’s did submit a letter opposing the proposal. The ban "would likely adversely affect the value, and unreasonably limit the use, of the current Lowe’s property,” Timothy Cooksey, vice president of real estate, wrote in a Dec. 7 letter to the city.
Should the store need to close, such a ban would reduce the ability of Lowe’s to fill the building with another tenant, Cooksey wrote.
The impact study showed that opening a superstore that includes groceries could create an average sales decline of 5 percent to 9 percent from existing stores in South San Francisco, according to the analysis completed by Seifel Consulting. The greatest impact would be to businesses within a two-mile radius of any new store, which includes the city’s downtown.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.