Hopes resurrected for grocery store | September 19, 2008 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |


Mountain View Voice

News - September 19, 2008

Hopes resurrected for grocery store

Council supports idea for new retail, high-density housing on downtown lot

by Daniel DeBolt

The City Council indicated Tuesday that a city-owned parking lot downtown could be the site of a long-sought grocery store, with high-density housing built on top.

In a study session on the 1.45-acre lot, located along Bryant Street between Mercy and California streets, a majority of the council supported leasing the land for a private, high-density housing development with retail space on the ground floor. The housing would include a to-be-determined number of below market rate units.

"Downtown residents have wanted a grocery store forever," said council member Ronit Bryant.

The city went through a debate about a grocery store during the design of the nearby five-story parking garage. At that time, downtown residents held a candlelight vigil when the city decided to go with Longs Drugs over a Zanotto's grocery store for the ground floor retail component. Council members said Longs would generate better lease revenue for the city, while Zanotto's wanted a subsidy.

"There was a lot of interest in a grocery store but it was just not economically feasible," said Joan Jenkins, the city's transportation and policy manager.

"There's no question a grocery store was the most popular choice," said council member Laura Macias. "We just didn't have the right grocery store at the time."

Council member Matt Pear said he supported the Asian grocer that already exists downtown, and called on the city to pursue a use for the empty lot that would generate the most lease revenue.

But Mayor Tom Means said, "If a grocery store of some size is willing to come in there, I'm fine with that."

"The city should not be in the business of being a landlord," said one public speaker who identified himself as a developer and owner of an adjacent property at 1046 Mercy Street.

A neighbor who lives in Bryant Street said it wasn't a good place for affordable housing.

"I don't want to see a preponderance of affordable housing downtown," said Council member Nick Galiotto, who added that the city already approved affordable housing downtown on Evelyn and Franklin streets.

Neighbors opposed affordable housing at the site two years ago, but Roy Hayter of Advocates for Affordable Housing pointed out that some residents, and even some council members, thought it was a better site than on Evelyn Avenue.

New fire station design

An all-new Fire Station No. 5 is in the works to replace the long-used temporary facilities on Shoreline Boulevard across from the Shoreline Amphitheatre.

In a Tuesday study session, firefighters were excited to see the council support their favorite of several possible designs: a traditional red brick firehouse on an earthquake-proof steel frame. The design review committee had recommended a modern design that was a closer match to the Google buildings nearby.

The design now includes a multipurpose room for police, who say their current room at the main police station is too small. The room adds $300,000 to the price tag, all of which comes out of the Shoreline tax district.

The council may add solar panels to the project later, seeking LEED silver status for green building.

Permanente trail inches forward

In the city's quest to extend the Permanente Creek Trail over Highway 101, a $9.43 million tunnel under Old Middlefield Way was supported by a majority of the City Council in a study session Tuesday.

Council members and three residents, including a bike-riding Google employee, supported the project, saying it would connect one of the city's largest neighborhoods to Google jobs, the Shoreline Amphitheatre, Shoreline Park and the movie theaters there.

One resident of Telford Drive complained that she didn't know about the project until she received a recent notice in the mail, and expressed concerns about the trail running along her backyard fence.

The project currently lacks a full budget, however, "Once the project is defined we can start looking for grant opportunities," said Cathy Lazarus, public works director.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com


Posted by Ted, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 19, 2008 at 3:25 am

Perhaps "Fresh & Easy", which is opening a new grocery store on the corner of Rengstorff Avenue and Middlefield Road (next to the Starbucks) in 2009, would be willing to open a store up in downtown Mountain View as well.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm

So, the council thinks that, in bad economic times, that suddendly a grocery store will materialize and do a deal that wasnt economically feasible a few years ago in better times? When was the last time you saw a new full service grocery store open up that wasnt a mega-store a la the new Whole Foods? THAT is the new model for grocery stores! AND, they're exploring a residential development deal NOW??? If they do a deal, they'll be locking in the current cruddy market rates on a ground lease forever. That is just plain dumb.

If the council doesnt actually have a grocery store interested that will do a viable deal, then this should be tabled at once. Dont waste staff time on dead ends, and dont confuse what downtown residents want with what is economically viable.

Council members that live in downtown should recuse themselves from this vote-- they clearly do not have the city's best interests at heart, just their own interest in being a few steps closer to a grocery store (Hello? Nob Hill is right across the street!)

Posted by Janet, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 22, 2008 at 7:22 am

Affordable housing is a great thing as long as it is affordable. But why not finish the Shea homes project on Evenlyn and Moorpark first.

Posted by PA Resident, a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Grocery store could have underground parking like Whole Foods, or rooftop parking. It may change some traffic patterns as local residents wouldn't have to drive for just a couple of items and even local office workers could do grocery runs in their lunch hours.

Posted by Kent, a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Janet: What happenned to Shea homes project? Is the unfinished project is now bank owned? Former MV duplex owner, Kent

Posted by Kent, a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Janet: What happenned to Shea homes project? Is the unfinished project is now bank owned? Former MV duplex owner, Kent

Posted by registered user, Daniel DeBolt, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 29, 2008 at 11:10 am

Shea homes has stopped development at Evelyn and Moorpark because of market conditions. The company said that aquiring bank loans wasn't the problem when I asked them a year or so ago. Also, the city has no control over when this project is finished, as it is on private property.

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