Mountain View Voice

Opinion - May 31, 2013

City should act to save Rose Market

The City Council needs to step back and take a deep breath before giving the green light to a proposed four-story apartment/ground floor retail building at Castro Street and El Camino Real.

The reason: Among the victims of what we expect will be another monotonous mixed-use development are a handful of shops that contribute to making Mountain View what it is today. Rose Market is the go-to place for hundreds of residents who value their wide selection of Persian and Middle Eastern foods.

Other businesses threatened on Castro Street are Peet's Coffee, which could survive in a smaller format, Le's Alterations, Sushi Tei and Tanya's Hair Design. If enough residents speak up it may compel the council to hold off granting final approval for the project, which already has voted 4-3 to advance the project by selling the developer a critical vacant lot owned by the city. Seven street-front businesses on El Camino Real and five on Castro Street, including Rose Market and Peet's, could be lost if the project advances. The new building would have 6,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, but that would be no substitute for the character of small businesses that would be wiped out.

City Council member Jac Siegel, who opposes the project, told the council that Peet's coffee shop is his "office away from home." Tentative plans call for the shop, which now is large enough to accommodate small meetings, to be rebuilt as a smaller store, with less parking and possibly backing up to El Camino Real.

Siegel told his fellow council members, "I really challenge you to find a place where people hang out and smell the exhaust on El Camino," he said, criticizing efforts by the city to encourage pedestrians to use the busy street's sidewalks.

For many residents, the Rose Market would be an equally bitter loss. According to a story in last week's Voice, some owners of the property that developer Graystar must have to assemble the building site voiced displeasure with forcing popular tenants like the Rose Market to close. Instead, one of the owners spoke of an obligation to create a "very good" project that includes existing businesses such as Rose Market. 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 that the (existing) tenants are very much considered. We have asked for that."

Rather than rush ahead on this approval, the council should give the developer more time to work with the affected businesses and the property owners who want to do the right thing.

Mountain View residents need a break from wholesale office and housing development, like we are seeing now in the San Antonio shopping center and downtown, where several major office and housing projects are under construction on Evelyn Avenue and elsewhere, even replacing the historic Pearson house, recently demolished at 902 Villa St. to make way for yet anotheroffice building and more dramatic change to the architecture and culture of the city.

The City Council needs to make sure that the tenants in the path of the Castro Street/El Camino Real development get a fair shake, rather than being booted out of space they have occupied for years. As anchors on the south side of the city's de facto "main street," these merchants deserve much better treatment from the City Council.

Comments

Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm

This is an excellent argument for restraint on the part of the city council. I hope this issue doesn't slip in under the radar during the summer. It's a terrible proposal. The city can do better. It has so many development increases underway, like removing Harv's Car Wash and the Jiffy Lube and replacing with high density housing. This one is the absolute worst thing being proposed.


Posted by Bogaigh, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I will fight this proposal. Both Rose market and Peets contribute positively to the character of the city. There are much better places to build high-density housing, for example along El Camino where so many businesses are shutting down.

Come to Rose Market Monday night at 6:30 and we can fight this together!!


Posted by High Rent, a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm

One of the reasons all these business are vacating El Camino at this point is that their rents are being raised astronomically. In this case, Rose Market has a long term lease which should provide them some protection. However, this development effort is an end run around honoring Rose Market's lease rate. I certainly agree, some sanity is needed in this city.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 14, 2013 at 11:33 am

I posted this comment in the "Protest of Castro Street development" thread, but I think it is relevant for this thread as well.

Link to thread:

Web Link

There is so much WRONG with this development proposal as it stands currently that it's hard to list everything.

1) The developers propose to replace nearly 26,000SF of retail space with just 6,000SF or retail space...bad for the merchants, bad for the residents of Mountain View. Rose Market alone is 4,000 SF, not including the outdoor seating space.

2) THREE middle school children were stuck by cars this past school year in close proximity to Graham Middle School, the increased traffic and congestion that would be present with the addition of 200 apartments will only make it more dangerous for all pedestrians in the area.

3) The traffic congestion at the corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real is already BAD. It routinely takes me 2-3 light cycles to make the left turn from Northbound El Camino on to Castro Street, heading towards Graham middle School -- between say the hours of 7AM and 8PM.

4) This is a FOUR story PLUS rooftop deck development proposal that will back up (within 20 yards) of single family homes and small two story apartment units. It will TOWER over the small quiet neighborhood streets of Park, Sonia and Harpster, resulting in a loss of privacy, increased noise, congested streets and a generally diminished quality of life in the neighborhood compared to what it is presently.

I am not opposed to re-development per se, but it needs to be SMART re-development that should enhance the neighborhood, not destroy it. And, as this development proposal currently stands, it will destroy this neighborhood...it's merchants, it's residents and pedestrians alike.

City Council needs to take a breath here and LISTEN to the residents...the same people who elect them to serve.

Please, if you can, come to the community meeting @6:30 Monday evening in front of Rose Market to learn more and voice your opinion on this matter!


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