Chase Bank Closes Ingleside Location For ‘Environmental Reasons’

When it opened at Faxon and Ocean avenues in August 2012, Chase was touted by Mayor Ed Lee as part of the neighborhood retail district’s successful revitalization.

Sign notifying public of Chase Bank's closure
A sign posted in the window of Ingleside’s Chase branch notifying the public of the bank’s impending closure. Alex Mullaney/Ingleside Light
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When it opened at Faxon and Ocean avenues in August 2012, Chase was touted by Mayor Ed Lee as part of the neighborhood retail district’s successful revitalization.

Not quite ten years later, the consumer banking company will permanently close its full-service location at 1649 Ocean Ave. on Dec. 15, 2021.

Given the rise of online and mobile banking and the considerable expense to operate brick-and-mortar storefronts in San Francisco not to mention the pandemic, Chase choosing to close may not be a surprise. However, contamination is the motivating factor.

“[W]e closed the branch for environmental reasons this summer and have decided not to reopen it,” Chase Vice President of Communications Christina Dello Buono told the Ingleside Light.

Development Project

In 2005 and 2008, project proposals to demolish five commercial buildings, including the one occupied by Chase, for a housing development were submitted to the Planning Department, records show. The proposals did not move forward.

In 2015, TJ Development acquired four of the properties 1601 to 1635 Ocean Ave. — but not the Chase building — and has pursued building a mixed-use development.

As part of routine due diligence, investigations in 2016 and 2018 found soil, soil vapor and groundwater contaminated by dry cleaning businesses that operated between 1944 to 1971 and 1989 to 1999.

In May 2019, TJ Development entered a voluntary agreement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to “provide oversight and direction for future environmental investigations and cleanup activities,” according to a letter DTSC sent to the developer.

Roux Associates investigated soil, soil gas, groundwater and indoor air in several commercial buildings, including the Chase branch. The properties were found to be contaminated with high levels of volatile organic compounds.

DTSC required that Roux Associates install air purifiers in three commercial units and the Iglesia Bethesda Church building.

Additional investigations are planned to determine groundwater, soil, soil vapor and indoor air contamination, according to DTSC.

At press time, the property owner was trying to get ahold of Chase.

Summer Closure

In June 2021, DTSC sent letters to TJ Development and the Office of the District 7 Supervisor after learning the project had received tax credits.

“Based on the investigation results, there is an imminent or substantial endangerment to public health or welfare or to the environment, because of a release of a hazardous substance at the Site,” the letter states. “The Site has significant contamination and requires remediation before it can be redeveloped. The lack of progress on addressing the contamination will cause delays with the redevelopment project.”

The letter coincides with Chase’s closure of the branch.

A representative from TJ Development could not be reached for an interview.

Chase has three branches within about a mile of Ingleside at 265 Winston Dr., 98 West Portal Ave. and 3981 Alemany Blvd.

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