The dollar store on the corner of Mission and Harrington streets in the Excelsior takes up nearly the entire block. Its faded pink-and-green exterior speaks of better days, made more poignant by the missing letters in its sign, which now reads only “ ONE $ O L Y.”
Aged though it may be, it does serve a purpose: It’s one of the last true, large-scale, dollar stores left in San Francisco. Not everything costs only a dollar, of course — inflation makes that nearly impossible — but it has that one-stop-shop vibe where you can pick up a few bottles of ketchup, some paper napkins, and several helium balloons for a party and not spend more than $10.
But its days are numbered. In December, a preliminary project assessment — the first of many steps developers must go through to get projects approved — was filed with the Planning Department. The paperwork states that the old commercial property, built in 1956, would be demolished, and a five-story, 56-foot-tall mixed-use building would rise in its place. (Update: The owner called SF Weekly to let us know there are still two years left on his lease, so the construction won’t break ground in the near future).
It’s not necessarily a huge loss; after all, as zoned, the new project would contain 24 dwelling units and 7,286 square feet of commercial space along Mission Street. And it’s hard to argue that homes shouldn’t be built so that kids have a spot to pick up their $1 Barbies and coloring books.
But the pending demolition speaks to a larger neighborhood trend: The One $ Only store is not the only discount business to be on the chopping block. More than two miles away, on the corner of 17th Street, a plan is in the works to knock down the One $ Store at 2100 Mission St. Much farther along than its Excelsior counterpart, the plan to convert the corner into housing began way back in 2009. The development has one through several iterations in the last nine years, but most recently landed on a design that includes six stories over ground-floor retail space. In all, 29 units will be built, and an original plan for an underground garage with 15 cars has been scrapped and replaced with bike storage.
After a boxy, the Planning Department’s Urban Design Advisory Team rejected a gentrification-heavy metal-and-glass-walled building’s design, a simple, beige cement exterior was drafted in its place.
Housing isn’t the only thing wrecking dollar stores: In 2014, a massive, five-alarm fire destroyed the Big House discount store at 2632 Mission St. After that, the One $ Store and One $ Only stores were the last two independently owned, large-scale, multi-themed discount stores left on Mission Street in San Francisco. Once they’re gone, there will only be a single dollar store left on the entire corridor — and Dollar Tree at 6232 Mission St. is all the way down in Daly City.
Nuala Sawyer is SF Weekly’s news editor.
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