Mountain View Voice

News - May 24, 2013

Landowner wants Rose Market to stay

Redevelopment plan makes fate of popular Persian grocery store unclear

by Daniel DeBolt

After a community backlash against plans for 200 apartments at the corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real, one of the property owners spoke Tuesday of an obligation to create a "very good" project that includes existing businesses such as the Rose Market.

The landowner, who wished not to be named, is one of several family members that now own roughly half the property proposed for redevelopment at the corner. The property, from 1032 to 1062 Castro Street, includes the buildings that house the Rose Market, Peets Coffee, Le's Alterations, Sushi Tei and Tanya's Hair Design.

Their father, longtime landlord John Nicholas, died in 2011.

The landowner said it was important to the family to see the corner developed well as a "gateway" to downtown at one of the most important intersections in the city. "We are suggesting and hoping the (existing) tenants are very much considered," the landlord added. "We have asked for that."

Rose Market's owner, Javad Mehran, told the Voice he is concerned about the future of his business.

The popular Persian grocery store has leased its building for over 20 years. A dozen other nearby businesses face eviction, mostly by another owner of parcels in the proposal from 801 to 819 El Camino Real.

Mehran said he holds a lease until 2016, and has an option to extend the lease until 2021, an option Mehran said he thought was "guaranteed." He added, "I don't know what options they have to break the lease."

The landowner would not confirm or deny the length of the lease.

Mehran said he first heard about the development proposal by reading about it in the Voice in April. "We still have a lease, we'd like to know what's going on," he said at the time.

Mehran has since met with representatives of the developer, Greystar, who told him about the project but did not promise to pay relocation expenses or make space for the market in the new development. Early plans include 6,000 square feet of of ground-floor retail. Mehran said his store now uses 4,000 square feet.

"People are asking, 'What's going on? Are you going to be closed?'" Mehran said. "This is very depressing for us and the people working here. We've been in this location for more than 20 years. I spend more time here than my home."

He said nearly 20 employees work at the market, many of them longtime employees.

The market is popular lunch spot, its outdoor tables often full during lunch hour with people enjoying a kebab. The landlord has noticed.

"The Rose Market is really popular with people," the land owner said. "I don't know if you've had the kebabs but they're incredible."

Fueling Mehran's fears was a comment made at the April City Council meeting on the project by Jonathan Hayes, development director for Greystar, who responded to questions about keeping existing businesses. "We've been asked not to approach any of the tenants except for Peet's we have been asked to approach them," he said.

Greystar did not respond to a request for comment.

The landlord denied asking Greystar to exclude the existing businesses, saying "It's not in our nature to exclude them."

The developer does not yet own the property, and it appears the developer won't own it unless the family is pleased.

"We want something that everybody, including the neighbors, will say, 'I'm really glad that's there,'" the landowner said. "That's why we picked this developer because we knew he'd do a quality job. It's not good enough to be OK, it has to be incredible for the citizens."

The landowner says the family is in no rush to sell, and have no immediate financial obligations, like estate taxes, that require the land be redeveloped or sold.

"No one has a gun to our heads," the landowner said. "(We) can take the time to do it right. If we were desperately trying to do something, you are not going to get a good quality project. In my opinion, we are obligated to so something very good."

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Slower Growth, a resident of another community
on May 26, 2013 at 12:44 am

This development should not be rushed. Just because there has been a long period when it was anticipated, there is no reason to just let the developer who comes along do whatever is desired. To me, the biggest problem is cutting back the retail from 23,000 square feet to just 6,000 square feet. Reisdences can go anywhere, but this nice area along the South side of El Camino and Castro street should receive special care. It's a transitional area between the many residences south of El Camino and the busier more urban downtown.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 26, 2013 at 6:28 am

So why wouldn't Rose Market and the other small retailers get a relocation fee from the city? If I recall, the city is shelling out up to 60K to move 48 tenants crammed into a few apartments over the old La Costena.


Posted by Relocator, a resident of another community
on May 26, 2013 at 11:10 am

The city will collect $2Million from selling that small parking lot in the back to this developer. It could plow that money back into relocating the small businesses. This would not be a bad idea. But the issue is partly that there are no good places for these businesses to go. For example Rose Market and Sufi have nice outdoor seating areas that are a key factor to their businesses. These are not fancy, but they do expand the sidewalk or make use of the back neglected area of the business (by the Alley). This is a unique way this existing space has been utilized. Rose Market may have only 4000 sq feet in use, but it also has a dozen or more tables outside, which are frequently occupied.


Posted by MVResident67V, a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm

The fact that Rose Market is 4,000sf (indoor space) and the proposed development calls for only 6,000sf of retail space makes it very easy to grasp just how LITTLE retail space this developer is actually proposing. The word 'token' doesn't even come close to an accurate description...how about 'insulting' to the residents of Mountain View.

Oh, and a FOUR story 200 unit apartment block with rooftop terraces, parked on top of single family homes and smaller two story apartments....certainly an encroachment on current residents. And, don't even get me started on the traffic impact...well other than to say it currently takes me 2-3 light cycles to make the left turn from North El Camino on to Castro Street every single day (heading towards Graham middle School) where THREE children have been struck by cars this year. So, yeah, adding 200 apartment units at that intersection should definitely help with congestion and pedestrian safety. (Sarcasm here)


Posted by Mtn View Walker, a resident of another community
on May 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I certainly appreciate the very wide sidewalks down Castro Street in front of Rose, Peets and all the way down to the corner. I hope this development includes more stores fronting the sidewalks and keeps them wide. This is a nice walkable place to do business and it ought to continue. There is no need to do away with this in order to add many many apartments here. All that is needed is a better more reasonable plan that gives the existing merchants a place to operate.


Posted by Impressed, a resident of Willowgate
on May 27, 2013 at 10:36 am

It's wonderful to read about this landlord, who actually seems to care about small businesses, and about the effect that this development will have on the quality of life in MV. If only we could expect the same from the developers and from the City Council!


Posted by Andrea Gemmet, Mountain View Voice Editor
on May 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

The following comment has been moved from a duplicate thread, which has now been closed:

"The landlord denied asking Greystar to exclude the existing businesses, saying "It's not in our nature to exclude them." So either Greystar lied or one of the landlords now has cold feet about what he told the developer. Rose Market may need to move if they cant afford the higher rents .
by Political Insider May 28, 2013 at 8:27 am


Posted by MV resident, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on May 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I will be very sad if Le's Alterations closes. I frequent the tailorshop often and they do wonderful work at a decent price.


Posted by We need more car repair shops, a resident of Monta Loma
on May 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm

We need more car repair shops, body damage and repair shops as well.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm

"The landlord denied asking Greystar to exclude the existing businesses, saying "It's not in our nature to exclude them."

So either the landlord or Greystar is lying. Seems to me the landlord wants it both ways.

Rose market could easily locate to another site and prosper.


Posted by Fact Deducer, a resident of another community
on May 29, 2013 at 12:13 am

The developer is partnered with a proposed new owner, who will acquire the properties from the existing owners. It would logically be this partner who would have instructed the developer, Greystar, how to proceed. There are two current owners involved, one for the Rose Market/Le Alterations/Peet's property and another for the Sufi/Bill's/Laptop Repair/Avis/Rug Merchant property. The 2nd owner had been seeking a developer to do a project under a land lease where the original owner would retain ownership of the land, which has significant property tax advantages since this property is owned by John Anderson, son of the original John Anderson who owned the land along El Camino for many years.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I WANT THEM TO LEAVE ROSE MKT AS IT IS. I shop there at least once every 2 weeks and I know of no other market like it.

The market owners and staff deserve respect and protection from mindless development.

The city council needs to use careful thought on how to transform that part of Castro Street.


Posted by Ayleen, a resident of Shoreline West
on May 30, 2013 at 3:42 pm

It frustrates me how almost every building that comes down is replaced by housing. Can't they do something else? Mountain View is already considered "boring". We need a mall, a new theater, night club, something FUN!

If more housing is being made the rent should at least go down.


Posted by David, a resident of another community
on May 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm

What's bad about this plan is that allegedly there will be retail business space in the huge complex to be built. But it's fake, because they are only talking about 6000 square feet which isn't enough for any real examples of retail. They should at least make a plan to keep the current amount, 23,000 sq feet, which would fit right in with such a large complex.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I really think the community as a whole is not aware that these changes are being planned for the Peet's area all along Castro back to Rose Market and round the corner through the Sufi Coffee Shop on El Camino. That's one problem. Too many changes too fast and it will all continue to happen at once. No time for consideration.


Posted by MV Shopper, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Recently there have been both more and more development projects starting up all along El Camino Real and also more and more buildings being emptied out. I wonder if some of the newly emptied buildings are also the subject of a potential development project, or if their landlords are just raising the rents to the $6/ft2 per month new Mountain VIew standard in rents, triple recent practices. This shutters a business when this happens.

A real question is if such high rents are truly sustainable. We seem to be in the midst of another kind of real estate bubble.


Posted by ZeroDictatorships, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Fight this proposal by attending the neighborhood meeting outside of Rose Market this Monday (July 15, 2013) at 6:30 PM. A Mountain View Voice reporter will be there to report on it, so come and voice your concerns. We need a large turn out, so just swing by on your way home from work. We will address the traffic and parking problems this will create for our neighborhood and our city, and the further steps you can take to head this off, like: Sign the petition we'll pass around there, E-mail our city council members, and bring a huge # of people to the Sept. 3, 2013, City Council meeting to voice our opposition to this monstrosity. If we achieve the critical mass in numbers of attendance to both the afore mentioned meetings, we can stomp this building proposal as did the cat owners objecting to cat licensing! Everyone opposing these gross over building projects that are so regularly jammed down our throats, come out and object to them in mass so we can have more effect from our strength in numbers!


Posted by ABAG this, a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I have heard that a high ranking member of our city council very recently had a conversation with a resident of the neighborhood directly behind the proposed four story 200 unit apartment complex on the corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real. When the topic turned to discussion of the negative impact this proposed development will have on this neighborhood the response was basically (paraphrasing here) -- "Get used to it. The homes in that neighborhood are old and they will be gone (replaced with high density housing) in 20 years."

So, evidently our city leaders plan to drive out the current homeowners one way or another...perhaps trying to cloak forcing out residents of single family homes under the guise of eminent domain?

If this conversation as reported to me is indeed accurate, (and I have no reason to believe differently)it tells me everything I need to know about our city leaders and what they think about current residents and homeowners -- specifically, that we mean NOTHING to the people who have been elected to represent the RESIDENTS of Mountain View's interests.

Evidently these representatives are solely focused on developing as many multi-story, high density housing units as they can possibly squeeze into the city and are more then happy to ruin the lives of current residents, homeowners and business owners in order to complete their "vision" of the future of this city.

I am currently investigating what needs to be done in order to hold a recall election election. I am deadly serious.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Bump for relevance.

There is a community meeting @6.30 this evening in front of Rose Market, to protest this development proposal. I have heard this meeting will be covered by MV Voice and perhaps others as well. Please, if you are able, come this evening and speak your mind.


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