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San Francisco Market holds opening of new building

On Oct. 22, the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market marked what is being called the first phase of an expansion project with the opening of a brand new 85,000-square-foot state-of-the-art produce and food distribution facility.

The warehouse and office structure, which sits on 3.4-acre site on Rankin Street adjacent to the 50-year-old market, will house several companies including a distribution center for a well-known regional supermarket chain.SFmarket1Former San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, current Supervisor Malia Cohen and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee join the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market board of directors Chairman Larry Brucia in dedicating the new building.

Mollie Stone's Markets Central Distribution Center will house purchasing and distribution functions for all nine Mollie Stone's Markets. The interior is currently being built out to the supermarket's specs but will include extensive refrigerated storage for fresh fruits and vegetables. The chain will occupy about 25,000 square feet of the building and is expecting to be open for business in the spring of 2015.

Michael Janis, general manager of the market, said negotiations with two or three other potential tenants were currently underway and he expected to make an announcement with regard to that within several weeks.

Janis said the completion of phase one in the reinvestment project is tangible proof of the continuing vitality of the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market. About a decade ago, a similar expansion occurred and 18 months ago the market signed a new 60-year lease with the city of San Francisco, which owns the property.

The San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market is comprised of 30 independent merchant businesses, united at one distribution center.

The market has a long history with the city of San Francisco. Many of the market's merchants sold fresh produce along the Embarcadero for many years before redevelopment in 1963 moved the market to its current location in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.

When the new lease was signed in 2013, it was accompanied with a multi-year, $96 million reinvestment project to upgrade and expand the facilities and position the market for future success. The addition of this building on Rankin Street is part of the first phase of the project and expands the market considerably in both size and in capacity for merchant businesses.

In addition, Janis said several tenants have seen their individual spaces expanded or relocated in the past 18 months to accommodate their own growth.

He said the next phase of the project is currently under consideration as the market board discusses its needs and prioritizes them. On the agenda are a number of capital improvements to the core infrastructure, such as redevelopment of the market's four central warehouses; a new front office and operations center; an enhanced and re-routed traffic pattern around the market; and a new entry point to provide a "front door" for customers and visitors making it more conducive to visit the market.

Janis said judging by the expanding needs of current merchants, business is thriving. He said it is a challenge to "find the space we need now for the existing tenants."