An owner of Palo Alto's beloved JJ&F grocery store told the Palo Alto City Council on Monday night that unless they move quickly on a plan to redevelop its current site, the store may have to leave for downtown Mountain View.
JJ&F has been operating at the Palo Alto site, known as "College Terrace," for about 60 years. John Garcia, co-owner of the store, told the Palo Alto council Monday that if the city doesn't act soon to redevelop the property, he would have to seriously consider an offer put forth by Mountain View officials.
"It's just the reality," Garcia said. "I cannot wait much longer. Our store is old and functionally obsolete."
"I'm a grocer," he added. "I know my business and I don't want to leave Palo Alto."
He said Mountain View city officials have asked JJ&F to consider moving to a 1.45-acre lot which is now a city-owned parking lot on Bryant Street between Mercy and California streets.
In September, a majority of the Mountain View City Council supported leasing that land for a private housing development, with space for a grocery store on the ground floor.
"Downtown residents have wanted a grocery store forever," said Mountain View council member Ronit Bryant at the September study session.
Garcia said Monday that he would be hard pressed to pass up such an offer if the current site at 2180 El Camino Real is not re-zoned to make possible the higher-density "College Terrace Centre."
Applicant Patrick Smailey, representing property owners The Chilcote Trust, has asked the Palo Alto council to allow nearly 40,000 square feet of office space there. In exchange, he agreed to subsidize JJ&F, a family-owned neighborhood grocery store that has been struggling to keep up with its rising rent payments.
Because of a large number of speakers Monday night, most of them ardent supporters of the grocery store, the Palo Alto council delayed a vote on the project for two weeks.