Rising Rents Push One Chain to Downsize

T-Mobile's Current Corner. Photo by Rigoberto Hernandez

The rising retail rents of the Mission can make even a multi billion dollar international chain store balk. Citing a hike in their rent, the large T-Mobile store at the corner of 20th and Mission is moving into a smaller, presumably cheaper, locale down the block.

In moving to a new location T-Mobile will go from a 3,000 square foot corner space to a 1,100 square foot one, which is in the same building as the former El Capitan Theater, on Mission between 20th and 19th Streets.

“They’re basically downsizing,” said Javier Solarzano, a paid expeditor for the mobile phone brand. He said that the new store will offer the same services and have the same number of employees as the existing one, but in a space a third of the size.

Gold Start Imports on Mission Street could become another T-Mobile. Photo by Daniel Hirsch.

Gold Start Imports on Mission Street could become another T-Mobile. Photo by Daniel Hirsch.

Solarzano wouldn’t comment on how much the rent increased, nor would the franchise’s owner David Massry return requests for an interview.

When reached for comment, T-Mobile’s current landlord was unaware that the store had plans to move to a new location down the street.

“It’s funny that you (Mission Local) know they’re moving and I don’t,” said Stefano Casalino, an employee of longtime San Francisco developer Edward Litke who owns the large property at 20th and Mission.

This May, the cellphone chain filed a request with the Planning Commission to operate a formula retail business (aka a chain store) at the former location of shuttered discount store Gold Star Imports at 2369 Mission Street—less than 100 feet from its spacious location at the corner of 20th and Mission.

The request to operate a chain store comes less than a year after the cellphone company got approval to operate its large corner store on Mission Street. The store itself had been open for four years without Planning Department approval, and finally got approval after a planner noticed that it has slipped through the Planning Department’s reach.

With T-Mobile moving, a prominent corner faces a looming vacancy with a large footprint. Casalino said he had no new tenants in mind at this point, but “it goes without saying, if [T-Mobile] moves, I’m going to try to find another tenant.”

The Planning Commission votes whether or not to allow the chain store to operate at this new location on Thursday, August 14. Given that they approved the formula retail use in October, with a Metro PCS across the street and another T-Mobile at Valencia and 17th, the new T-Mobile is likely to get approval once more.

According to planning documents, the new store will make minimal changes to the existing storefront at 2369 Mission. Solarzano says that once the Planning Commission approves the chain store use, T-Mobile will get going with its short, though significant, move.

Update: On August 14, the Planning Commission approved the conditional use request for T-Mobile’s new location. There was no public comment nor did the project sponsor appear before the commission.

Note: We got onto this story thanks to a community contributor who sent in a photo of the chain store notice here. You can send in other photos or tips to missionlocal@gmail or you can upload photos directly here.  Thank you to our intrepid community contributor. 

See below for the T-Mobile newest conditional use authorization request to operate a chain store on Mission Street:

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  1. 24-24

    how is this newsworthy? the place is giant.. have you been in there? it makes no sense for them to have even moved into this place..

  2. iv

    i have to agree w/ the comment above. the place is too big for what their business is. cell phone and plan sells.

    i think it’ll be more interesting when a taqueria or long-time restauran is forced to move out of its locale b/c of rising rents.

  3. DPClean

    The photograph for this article by Rigoberto Hernandez does a great job with lighting.

    It’s really hard to see the public notice of the hearing to allow this space to be used as a T-Mobile formula retail establishment, it is hidden behind a closed gate so that it is very difficult to see, rather defeating the purpose of public notice postings.

  4. Bob

    This is an ideal spot for more housing.

  5. john

    It’s not clear from this article if this is a proper T-Mobile store because their corporate store is located on 17th and Valencia. I think it’s just a private store owner (small business) who happens to have a license agreement, which is different from a corporate location having to move.

  6. SFrentier


    1- yuppers.
    2- John, you’re back!

  7. MissionLoca

    I’m happy to see it go. I’d rather see a non-chain store move into that space. Also, it’s not like they’re disappearing from the Mission; this very article clearly states they’re just moving.

    Last, and perhaps most importantly, it should be noted that the slant of this article is about continuing Mission Local’s narrative about how the evil high rents are driving out local business…but that’s not necessarily the case here. Businesses move all the time because the rent goes up and the business owner decides to move somewhere cheaper. That doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t afford to continue his business in this location, it just means he *chooses* not to do so. Also, if a business is simply moving less than 100 feet away, it’s not really the same as “being forced out by high rents,” now is it?!

    Rents go up, and yes, on Valencia, in recent years, they’ve gone up considerably. But not every shuttered store is cause for crying and beating our breasts. Some stores don’t really fit in with the neighborhood, or have ceased to be relevant to the community. Others fail to thrive in part because of poor business practices. T-Mobile moving 100 feet away? This is not cause for panic or even the batting of an eyelash.

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