2009_10_lowes.jpgA celebration was held Thursday morning to mark the opening of a new Lowe’s home improvement store on Bayshore Boulevard in San Francisco that has brought hundreds of jobs to the area.

The store began serving customers at 6 a.m. Friday but waited until 11 a.m. today for the fanfare, which included appearances by Mayor Gavin Newsom and city Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, and a “board cutting” ceremony.

The festivities began when Newsom entered the balloon-clad store’s parking lot entrance and told a crowd full of community leaders, media and Lowe’s employees about the early struggles leading up to the opening.

“I remember the controversy like it was yesterday,” Newsom said.

The site, originally a Goodman’s Lumber, was slated for a Home Depot store after being vacant for nearly a decade when Goodman’s closed in 2000.

As with most big-box store proposals, locals opposed the Home Depot, fearing it would take business away from the “mom and pop” stores, Newsom said.

Adding to the controversy, Home Depot abandoned the plan in 2008.

Then Lowe’s stepped in, Newsom said.

“If there was going to be a big-box store, there had to be a commitment to the community,” Newsom said.

More than 200 people from Bayview-Hunters Point, the Mission District, Potrero Hill and the Portola and Excelsior neighborhoods have been hired to work at the store.

Bayview-Hunters Point resident Shakarri Hebron is excited to have the Lowe’s close to home.

“We needed jobs, we needed this store,” Hebron said.

Hebron, a cashier, said the nearby mom-and-pop hardware stores are often too expensive.

Hebron is studying criminal justice and balances her schedule at Lowe’s with her City College class schedule.

Construction on the site – which is more than 90,000 square feet – generated 312 jobs, and nearly half were filled by San Francisco residents, according to the mayor’s office.
“This location, this boulevard, needed the economic stimulation,” Newsom said.

Maxwell, who oversees Potrero Hill, Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, Silver Terrace, Dogpatch, Little Hollywood, and the Portola district, said she hopes to turn the area into a “home improvement district, with Lowe’s being the anchor.”

“I’m really excited about it,” Maxwell said.

Before this opening, the nearest Lowe’s stores were in South San Francisco and San Bruno.

Together, Maxwell and Newsom used a saw to cut through a decorated 2-by-4 board, symbolizing the end of the ceremony.

“I want to thank the community and the neighborhood for letting us come in,” store manager Gina Meacham said.

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