Touchstone Climbing Mounts Conversion Plan For Pacific Super

The San Francisco gym chain plans to transform the empty Pacific Super grocery store into a rock climbing and fitness center.

Rendering of supermarket facade
A rendering of the facade of the former Pacific Super when occupied by Touchstone Climbing. | Courtesy image

The former Pacific Super, a supermarket that closed last year on Alemany Boulevard, may soon become a climbing gym and fitness center.

The San Francisco-based rock climbing gym Touchstone Climbing, which has 18 locations across the state, held its first outreach meeting for community organizations on Tuesday via Zoom so representatives could discuss their plans for their new gym.

“We try to find ways to integrate into the community,” Creative and Business Development Director and Crocker-Amazon native Jefferey Bowling said. “We don't want to come in and just rip these old buildings down. It's a good analogy for who we are as a company… We really try to identify what the community needs are and kind of provide stuff tailored to each individual community.”

Plans for the new space include demolishing several interior walls and updating the front façade to include a large window to open up the space.

The proposed floorplan for the Touchstone Climbing location on Alemany Boulevard. | Courtesy image

This new gym would be similar to the company's other athletic clubs, like Mission Cliffs and Dogpatch Boulders in San Francisco. It would be fully equipped with lockers, restrooms, climbing walls, yoga and fitness classrooms, weights and other workout equipment.

Touchstone Climbing plans to host pop-ups with small businesses and organizations from the area to promote local businesses and activities like setting up food drives.

Touchstone Climbing anticipates it will take six months to a year to obtain all required permits and at least another year for construction. Bowling said funding would most likely come from loans and existing capital.

Alyssa Cheung, a leader with the community group We Are OMI, asked how the gym would promote commuting to the facility through non-car modes of transportation like biking, if there were discounts for locals and how the gym would cater to those who already live in the neighborhood as opposed to those who are traveling to it.

The proposed facade for the Touchstone Climbing location on Alemany Boulevard. | Courtesy image

“I imagine that a lot of the community, especially because there are folks who are saying ‘We don't have a grocery store that's not a specialty store like H Mart.’ There are a lot of things where people are going to push back and say, ‘Well, is this something that our community can use because we might not be able to afford to use this and we need a grocery store?’” Cheung said. “I think there needs to be some sort of appeasement for folks, especially because we're one of the last few affordable places to live in San Francisco.”

Bowling said they have actively worked with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to have bike rider access around their Mission Cliffs branch and will do similar work for the Alemany location. He emphasized the company never wants to deter people from its gyms due to cost so they offer financial aid assistance programs for memberships and discount single-day passes for EBT and Medi-Cal card holders.

Nancy “Pili” Hernandez, manager of the Latino Task Forces’ Casa De Apoyo Resource Hub in the Excelsior, shared similar sentiments and highlighted the neighborhood's need for a food bank or non-specialty grocery store.

“I’m definitely happy to hear that it will be occupied by a San Francisco-based company,” Hernandez said. “That's great but at the same time I do feel the pushback you will hear people say is that when the building was Pacific Super it was accessible to our neighborhood and when it becomes a climbing gym I think you guys will be tasked with explaining how this neighborhood will be invited in.”

Remi Moehring, general manager at the Pacific Pipe branch, said the company has ongoing food drives at several branches along with donation bins for collecting items for distribution to local shelters and encampments.

Herandez asked about the company’s hiring policy. Moehring said they plan to continue hiring people from the surrounding community.

Vacant supermarket
Pacific Super has been vacant for about a year. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

“Even before we opened our doors [at Pacific Pipe], we were doing proactive outreach to neighborhood groups, the parks and rec center, [and] schools to see what we could do for them and see how we can work together in order to build those relationships and make sure we're not

just coming in and saying ‘Well, we're a climbing gym. Deal with it.’ This is the neighborhood now,”’ Moehring said. “We really want to act as a part of that neighborhood and we want to integrate ourselves into it rather than the neighborhood having to deal with whatever it is we're serving up.”

As they wait for approval from the San Francisco Planning Department, Touchstone Climbing will hold three more Zoom meetings to collect feedback from the community before holding in-person meetings.

Touchstone Climbing Zoom Meetings:
Saturday, July 13, 2024 at 10 a.m.
Wednesday, July 17, 2024 at 6 p.m.
Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 6 p.m.

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