SAN FRANCISCO — Prada has quietly put its 22,500-square-foot retail property here on the market. The company acquired 185 Post Street, one block from Union Square, for $18.5 million in 1996 but never developed it.

“We will list the building unpriced and let buyers make offers,” said a spokesman for Grubb & Ellis, the brokerage firm which has been hired by 185 Post Street LLC to market and sell the building.

“This would be one of the best pieces of real estate in downtown San Francisco,” said the realtor. “It’s an unbeatable location.”

Prada bought the six-story modernist building and announced its ambitious plans at a time when the Northern California economy was hot and tourism was booming. The Milan-based firm commissioned architect Rem Koolhaas, who designed Prada’s SoHo store in New York, to create a retail-cultural space that would attract theatrical and literary groups and musicians, as well as retail customers.

Koolhaas’ proposed plan, a steel-sheathed structure with round windows,which some said looked like a giant cheese grater, was welcomed by the architecture and design community who admired its innovative design.

Prada won approval for the project by the city planning commission, but the company’s financial woes, a tourism downturn after Sept. 11, 2001, and San Francisco’s high tech meltdown kept the project on hold.

Signs on the hoarding announcing Prada’s future opening were eventually painted over. The company also closed its Jil Sander unit on Maiden Lane.

The future of Prada’s temporary retail space on Geary Street has not been disclosed.

Despite Prada’s move, many remain optimistic about the future of Union Square retail. While Eddie Bauer is reportedly closing its large Post Street operation, Sephora and Hermès are opening new units in the Union Square area in June.

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