City Hall Watch: Barneys is beaten in latest round of basement battle 

Luxury retailer Barneys lost a battle Tuesday in the fight over a sub-sidewalk basement The City says it wants back to make way for the Central Subway project.

Barneys and the property owner, Stockton Street Properties, filed separate appeals against The City’s decision to take back its sub-
sidewalk basement space. The space is used for retail in the six-floor, 60,000-square-foot building on the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell streets in Union Square.

The City needs the space for the Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway project, the $1.57 billion transit plan the agency intends to complete by 2018. An underground subway line would run through Chinatown under Stockton Street and into SoMa along Fourth Street.

The Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 Tuesday to reject the appeals, authorizing The City to move forward with its plan to revoke the permits. Barneys and the property owner’s representatives said they didn’t want to stand in the way of the project but wanted the Board of Supervisors to allow them time to negotiate “an appropriate resolution,” such as compensation for the loss of space.

Not being granted the time could result in a lawsuit against The City, they suggested.

“Barneys wants to work with the MTA. It feels a little sandbagged,” said Michael Yaki, who is representing Barneys in the appeal. “We can solve this without going to the mat.”

Arguments in the appeals include the fact that The City does not own the space in question.

The postponement was not granted. Supervisor Carmen Chu said the appeals did not have merit and a postponement would unlikely make a difference.

“This space does belong to The City and county for the use of public space,” Chu said.

The building dates back to the early 1900s. Barneys opened for business in the Union Square building in September 2007 after significantly renovating the building, which once was home to an FAO Schwarz toy store. The building was built for the Newman and Levinson Department Store in 1909, according to the American Institute of Architects’ San Francisco Chapter.

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