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New grocer seeks city's help

Original post made on Feb 24, 2012

Anne Origel, co-owner of Ava's Downtown Market and Deli, asked the City Council on Tuesday for some financial help as the market struggles to undergo a transformation into a neighborhood grocery store.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 24, 2012, 5:12 PM

Comments (44)

Posted by bkengland
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I, for one, strongly encourage Council to move ahead on the request. This is very much in line with General Plan Update visioning feedback that seeks to provide more services and jobs close to residential hubs, so that people in Mountain View won't necessarily need to drive very far to get to essential destinations.

Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

So much for pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, 'this is America so no hand outs', huh?

The answer is no. You bought a business with hopes or plans that the city would give you a hand out? Boo hoo.

or you bought a business with no firm plan on how to make it on your own? Boo hoo.

The 'community' may 'really (want) them to succeed'. Who wouldn't? But it's a private business. You take the risks but you also reap any of the rewards.

You need money to help you business? Do what the rest of us have done: get a loan from a bank.

Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:06 am

This is more about the affluent Old Mountain View residents wanting to create their perfect Utopia. All that's missing is a taxpayer funded market that only they can walk to and will undoubtedly be the only ones to use. There are many of us who don't have the luxury of being able to walk to a grocery store. And now the want to get rid of drive-ins as well.

Posted by MVer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:08 am

Let's move the Farmer Market to San Antonio Square where it would serve more people. Yeah, watch people get exited about that one. It's all of one neighborhood and none for all.

Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

"Asian market" is not a "neighborhood market"?

What if people in the neighborhood are Asian?

Is "neighborhood" one of those euphemisms that means rich White people like "urban" means poor Black people?

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I hope they succeed but no city subsidies. They knew what they were getting into when they bought the store. I agree with Ned. An elite few in the neighborhood want special privileges because they think they are special. The General Plan does not say the city should subsidize private companies to achieve its goals

Posted by Carl
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 26, 2012 at 7:19 am

Asking for a hand-out is always the easy solution. How about getting by the old-fashioned way like the rest of us? This is not a priority for the City Council.

Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I support the concept of having a grocery store in the downtown area to create a more complete, walkable neighborhood. But I don't believe we should be subsidizing a market to get there. If the market is not making it financially, it is likely because there is not a large enough critical mass of customers within walking distance to propel sales. When the city tried to attract a grocery store downtown several years ago, the market studies showed that it would require a much larger number of shoppers in the catchment area than what exists now.

What is ironic is that some of the people in Old Mountain View who are lobbying for city assistance now were among the loudest voices opposing the Minton's development and crying for it to be smaller, shorter and with half as many units - and who succeeded in getting the city & developer to trim the size. Many of the same voices also rose in unison when the developer of the Classics development at the corner of Evelyn & Calderon proposed switching from rowhouses & single-family houses (a very low-intensity use of the land, given its location) to denser office buildings. These developments, had they proceeded as proposed rather than getting down-scaled, would have helped add to the critical mass to keep a downtown market in business.

It's a pointed lesson that you can't have it both ways - shout down development, while at the same time expect the kinds of shops & services that denser cities have.

Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I agree that the City Council should not be handing out money to this store, but not because of who owns it, but because they should not be giving money to ANY businesses. It is not the business of Government to be picking winners and losers. If a business cannot sustain itself, whether it be because of bad planning, the economy, or just plain bad luck, then it should fail.

America is the land of opportunities, not the land of guarantees! Everyone is entitled to work hard and to TRY to be successful, but if they fail, they learn important lessons that either help them to succeed the next time, or allow them to realize that perhaps they need to try their hand at something else more suited to their talents.

It is not up to the City Council to determine what kind of city we will have, it is up to US!!! If we want to support the store, we will, but if we don't, we shouldn't have stores, businesses, housing, or regulations forced on us that we don't want and/or don't need.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm

The location is within 0.9 miles of the Safeway on Shoreline, within 1.2 miles of Nob Hill on Grant Road and within 1.5 miles of the Safeway on Miramonte. It cannot compete with the price or selection, and there are insufficient customers to support it.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

@OMV Resident

"What is ironic is that some of the people in Old Mountain View who are lobbying for city assistance now were among the loudest voices opposing the Minton's development and crying for it to be smaller, shorter and with half as many units - and who succeeded in getting the city & developer to trim the size"

The number of units was reduced from 210 to 203 only because the project did not need to meet the BMR requirements. The developer and the city went ahead with the project at the density they wanted.

Also - your logic is a little bit backwards. The development went through at almost three times the density of the former zoning - under the pretense that the higher density would support a downtown grocery store. So now that the higher density is coming, perhaps the city should put their money where there mouth is, and ensure that there is the grocery store to go with it.

Posted by MV Resident
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I personally liked this place better when it was the Chinese Market. I went here not knowing the owners had changed, and the selection of fruit was not very good and the store seemed so bare.

Posted by Downtown worker
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

It's not valid to assume the only ones benefitting are downtown residents. Access to fresh food benefits everyone who works or shops downtown. That's the original point of a downtown, vs sprawl. If we didn't have government handouts in the guise of revitalization, we'd all be much worse off right now. Sometimes it's important to purposefully invest in the commons.

A deli counter sounds great.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm

If they change the name of the market to 'Google', they'll get everything they ask for.

Posted by KD
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm

The 2010 census shows that census tract 5096 (aka downtown Mountain View, 3-4 blocks either side of Castro) has a population of 2,625 - an increase of around 275 people in the past 10 years.

Spending $2,000,000 to subsidize the quality of life of these residents (and possibly some office building tenants in the area) seems like a poor way to spend taxpayers money.

Posted by Jes' Sayin'
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hand out to help them start a deli?

Bet Subway, Posh Bagel and all the other sandwich places on down the street would just love seeing that.

Posted by Sparty
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

John the Man is right. He's a go getter. He's never used a library, needed the police nor does he know anyone that has used an ambulance en route to the hospital.

In fact he is so against private companies getting public money, he has never used a public road. He simply levitates and flies to wherever he needs to go.

Posted by Sparty
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

The folks who post "the very same people who______now are________" are always good for a laugh.

Never once will you see them cite even ONE person who has flipped flopped as they suggest.

Posted by Eli
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

The commenters have it correct.

I moved out of Mountain View (to a dense neighborhood in Seattle) because all the NIMBY's [who now populate your city council] blocked all the densification that would have enabled businesses like this one to have a large enough customer base within walking distance to thrive.

And now they're surprised that they can't sustain a neighborhood grocery? Well, duh!

Posted by Steve
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I would like to challenge MV Resident's comment about the fruit selection. Since the new owners have taken over, my opinion is that the variety of fruit and vegetables have increased and the quality is far better than before. I have been to the market several times because of the improvements to the fruits and vegetables they offer.

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I think helping this market succeed is in the best interests of the city. A vital downtown requires more diversity -- restaurants alone are insufficient. The devil is in the details, but I think this could be a reasonable investment. Maybe some sort of low interest loan would be appropriate.

Posted by Charlie Musgrave
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm

We wish that they succeed but not on the backs of the tax payer. So no subsidies please. If the locals want it they should offer to invest their own personal funds in it. There are plenty of sufficiently wealthy people in the hood who could put up cash to move them forward. In fact it maybe a good investment.

Posted by gcoladon
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

Directing the general tax monies of a city of 70k+ people to subsidize a private business that will directly benefit only those that live near downtown doesn't seem very fair to me.

Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Let the record show that when Costco was looking for a location between Redwood City and Sunnyvale, the City of Mountain View gave them a temporary sales tax exemption worth at least six figures. (My memory is a bit rusty, this happened about 20 years ago.)

The practice of cities subsidizing certain kinds of businesses is not new, but what would be unusual in this case is that the business is small, most of the items it sells are tax-exempt, and the deal with the city wasn't nailed down before the owners committed to their location.

If what Ava's needs is a low-interest intermediate term loan, downtown residents might be a better source of funds than the City.

Posted by Rocinante
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Although I don't now live close enough to walk to such a deli, I would like to. What's preventing me from buying a smaller home in Old Mountain View is the lack of a grocery within walking distance. I do use the Farmers Market regularly but they don't carry everything needed and are only available on Sundays. I think the city's concern should be whether they want to improve the downtown with a family grocery or not? If they do, and don't want a Safeway or Nob Hill moving in, it seems appropriate to offer an incentive to someone willing to invest, that can apparently run a good business in keeping with the downtown ambiance. Why couldn't the solution be small grant along with a guaranteed no/low interest loan?

Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm

This is exactly why Government at all levels is broke! They always want to subsidize politically correct pet projects that are unprofitable, while simultaneously going out of their way to destroy the businesses and industries that are!

Those of you that think government handouts help obviously know nothing about economics! If government handouts helped, the unemployment rate would be ZERO! After all, didn't the Federal Government waste 1 TRILLION DOLLARS of taxpayer money on a so-called stimulus package?

We have a Chick-Fil-A that wants to use THEIR OWN MONEY to bring jobs and tax dollars into Mountain View, and there are some on the Council that are trying to block it because it doesn't sell the kind of food that THEY think we should eat.

In the interests of full-disclosure, I do not own any stock in Chick-Fil-A, have never worked there, have never eaten there, and have no connection to them whatsoever that I am aware of. I simply do not believe in the Keynesian economic model that thinks that government can centrally plan the economy (and our lives).

Those of you that love the nanny state will love it when all you can get at the store is TOFU! You will be happy when there are no more fast food restaurants, and stores only sell vegetarian products because everything else has been banned. After all, there is no Constitutional right to eat meat, right?

You will also be happy when they ban all gas powered cars because they are not politically correct either. Who cares if only the 1% will be able to afford them? Poor people don't need to drive, right?

I refuse to be part of the collective! I do not want my life and my community planned by anyone! We the people should be telling the government what WE want by being willing to pay for it ourselves!

I don't want MY MONEY used to subsidize a business that I have no intention of patronizing!

As far as the comment by 'Sparty', your lack of knowledge is showing! Public roads (maintained by the city or county), libraries, and police are all PUBLIC AGENCIES! A grocery store is not; and therefore not entitled to public money! If the store were city run, then you would have a point. But I am sure that if the store were city run; it would be run at a deficit even greater than the one the store has now!

Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:47 pm

@Sparty - For an example of people who have opposed density in the vicinity of downtown but now are lobbying for city support for the grocery, look no further than the 2 Old Mountain View residents quoted in this article.

@Steve - You're right that the Minton's development was approved at close to the density that was originally proposed (actually 214 units). But if the loudest of the MiRNA voices had their way, it would have been another bunch of rowhouses or tall, skinny single-family homes like the Classics developments - an incredible missed opportunity directly across from the train station and 3 blocks from Castro.

It's also premature to say whether the Minton's apartment development has helped support businesses downtown, because it hasn't even opened yet. Give it another year and we'll start to see the effect of those new households supporting our downtown businesses.

Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

People like "OMV resident," hiding behind pseudonyms and adjusting the facts to fit their pat preconceptions, will always be with us. (I keep reminding MV Voice editors that switching to a format of registered users only, accountable for real names, has greatly improved the tone of online discussion forums elsewhere.)

Speaking as one of those two people quoted (very loosely and casually in the Voice article), what I actually testified to City Council was reminding them that in the City's past search for a downtown grocer, six-figure funds were expended -- not on grocers, but on advisory consultants who (to my knowledge) didn't vend as much as a lollipop in Mountain View. Water under the bridge now, of course, but it's context for all this. I'd rather see the City somehow support the actual grocers, who are (my line, not Cox's) quintessential American small-business entrepreneurs. In local discussions to date, neither I nor anyone else has assumed that help means giving them City money, such as the consultants got (and these voices now so indignant about even the thought of handouts were doing what, at that time)?

Likewise, my own issue with the Minton's redevelopment is misrepresented above, echoing a wider campaign that included people far outside MV (advocacy groups with addresses in other cities) who began by glibly second-guessing what motivated local objections, then built rhetoric on that. In fact there were several schools of thought among neighbors about the Minton' redevelopment. My own concern was specific: The proposal was underprovisioned for parking, just like several recent projects built in Palo Alto and elsewhere, which caused nasty side effects and a backlash against such planning there. Neighbors of those projects warned us about what they'd been through. This design problem was tacitly highlighted when the MND study for Minton's whitewashed parking and traffic issues with data inaccuracies and inconsistencies that would have earned any freshman engineering student a failing grade.

No one on this forum has any business putting words in my mouth.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I don't see what is a matter with a loan, the city has done it before, to bad the RDA went away the redoing of the front of building has done wonders. Do we keep small business, or let the chain stores take over, we spent time, money in downtown, we go something to really show for it. Use zoning to bring in traffic, you might be able to get empty building filled, more business mean more taxes.

Posted by Tony
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm

This is a perfect example of the Council over stepping their roles once again and making promises to fulfill their own campaign promises as well as directing City staff to do things that they should not be doing.

Why don't you people stop re-electing these sociopaths and get people in there who have real world experience running succesful operations instead of a bunch of power hungry elitists who choose to focus on their issue and not our issues.

VOTE! Get these people out and people who can actually think and make hard decisions instead of a group of gla dhanders that will do or say anything to get re-elected.

Posted by PlsRuinMyBackyard
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I love the "libertarians" and republicans on this thread. They say they want less 'government waste' and to let businesses succeed or fail on their own.

These types tend to be the absolute worst spenders of the bunch. They love when corporate lobbyists push the administration into bombing other countries to help their texas oil buddies...sending this country into massive debt. They love guns and breathing smoke on others. They want to throw trash in the streets, out the windows and pollute the planet. "It's My Right!" I do what I want!!!

Of course, these same people have their hands out when they need any form of police, fire or medical assistance.

Ava is very cool. Go in and talk to the owner and give him your suggestions. Extremely receptive.

Posted by Steve Rasmussen
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I'm chiming in from the other side of town as the owner of another small local business.
The City has spent plenty of money over the past several years on consultants, studies and designs in an effort to evaluate the merits of bringing a grocery store downtown. I believe this is a natural by product of a government that is attempting to address diverse community needs. The net net of those studies concluded that a viable location couldn't be found that would be accepted by mainstream businesses at a price they, the grocery businesses, were willing to pay.
Along comes Anne and Juan Origel. They have some experience, some money, some dreams. They find a downtown market that is tired but is briming with potential. The City indicated there might be some monies available for "redeveloping" the look and feel of the market. Local residents had expressed in the past and now currently a wish to support a local grocery market. The Origel's take the dive into the deep unknown; they don't get a $500,000 sales tax waiver like Costco obtained from the City years ago, the improvement money that the City had in redevelopment evaporated, the condition of a long neglected building may have been worse than expected.
City Council has heard the wishes of local residents along with Castro Street merchants who see the synergy that a well run small market could bring to the downtown community. Now they are hearing from the Origel's who have demonstrated the courage and spunk to try to make an exciting new store for downtown Mountain View. The Origel's have already saved Mountain View valuable downtown land and huge amounts of capital. They didn't ask the City to build them a new grocery store!
I believe the City and the Community might have a chance to make this venture of the Origel's work.
There may be Old Mountain View Neighborhood residents that would be willing to contribute to a capital fund that could be used by and for the benefit of Ava's Market. Possibly the landlord could take a discount on current rent, where the discount is paid back sometime in the future with interest. Perhaps the City could support Ava's Market by paying the portion of the monthly rent that is greater than 6 % of sales. Again, this "Municipal bridge loan" would be paid back if and when the store builds its community.
Before I finish, I want to address many of you who will stongly urge the Origel's to do it the old fashioned way; go get a loan at the bank. Bank loans have never been easy. In todays world banks have a very difficult time funding individual businesses due to greater oversight as well as less local control.
I might suggest that the Origel's create a signup board at Ava's Market where people in their community can sign up to attend a combination "Workshop & Brainstorming" session with City Staff, City Council members, the City Manager and other skilled local business supporters that feel they could contribute to a meanfull plan that would help facilitate the growth of Ava's Market into the future.

Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 29, 2012 at 6:57 am


Here's a big shocker: What really sent this country into massive debt was big banks pressured and given incentives by liberal politicians to give anyone and everyone a home loan who in no way could realistically afford one or with the responsibility to pay one back--similar to giving a small business a public loan with little market analysis that supports the business being successful; in turn similar to a solar panel company (a la Solyndra) getting a 500 million public handout to produce a product than could not compete on the market.

And I can guarantee you that "libertarians" and republicans are not the same people have their hands out when they need any form of police, fire or medical assistance. Spend a few nights down at one of the local ERs if you don't believe me.

Steve Rasmussen:

How about chiming in now about all the small businesses (many no doubt headed by good honest people with experience, some money, some dreams) that have come and gone on Castro Street without the option of a handout from the city (meaning taxpayers). Where do you draw the line on who gets a handout? Why is it that the word "no" or the phrase "not possible at this time given conditions of the market" never enters into the equation? Redevelopment agencies are gone for now. The sooner everyone wakes up to that fact the better rather than continuing to think that unbridled spending is still an option. I be much more impressed if the owners of the market found a way to get by on their own. After all, the solution is not always more money, more money.

Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 29, 2012 at 10:35 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Steve Rasmussen, thank you for adding some common sense and relevant real-world observations. (FYI for some time, a group of Ava's customers have been organizing for their own local fund-raising possibilities; publicity coming in the Old Mtn View neighborhood newsletter. Robert Cox reported these initiatives to the Council -- this was among details not in the Voice story.) And just as with other small retail businesses (I have some experience with this, elsewhere), the problems and solutions can appear wonderfully simple to observers from the perspective of the armchair, without grasp of the business's realities and history.

There's a further human dimension to this story, hard to capture in words. I recommend meeting and interacting with the Origels if you possibly can. Even for a neighborhood with many other family-run businesses, meeting these remarkably intelligent and capable people and their three children (the newborn hasn't yet learned the product codes ;-) who genuinely bet their farm, independent of all those years of City hand-wringing, consultants, and corporate negotiations about bringing retail downtown -- experiencing just how keenly they strive to be of value to the downtown community -- it puts all the theories about economics and politics into a broader perspective.

Posted by AAA
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Who says a store like this only services those who live downtown?! We don't live downtown, but we visit 2-3 times a week and my husband works downtown. Many people visit downtown for the shops and restaurants, and it is VERY handy to purchase groceries in the same trip.

Ava's is looking great! I'm very excited about the products they carry. The owners are extremely friendly, amazing people. I'm not in favor of handouts, but I see no reason why the city can't provide some type of low/no interest loan to help the market succeed. As someone who has the sole responsibility of purchasing food for my family, I don't think this is a pet project, this is a HUGE convenience for many local families, even those who don't live downtown.

In the long-term, Ava's will need to succeed on its own for sure, but I think the owners only need some short-term help to get up and running (they've already put in everything they have, and showed their courage and dedication to this community). I think we should provide additional, temporary support. I actually think this is a better way to spend the city's money than the many social service programs that give lots but don't get much in return.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 29, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Oh, I get it now, based on the last two comments, only "remarkably intelligent and capable people" and "extremely friendly, amazing people" like these deserve a low interest loan from the city and taxpayers! Can we be any more subjective and biased in making an argument?

I feel sorry for the average joe or jane who hasn't rubbed shoulders with the right people. They have to succeed in business and get loans the old-fashioned way.

I guess some animals are more equal than others afterall.

Posted by Righty
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

Ned--Thank you for the Fair and Balanced response. We need more people in Montain View that can pass along the Truth from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. I completely agree with you that no republicans would ever call the police or fire people. Keep up the great work!

Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2012 at 7:03 am


Actually, I'm an independent and don't watch Fox News or listen to Limbaugh. I do pay a lot in taxes, and if you do, be ready to vote for many more in the next few elections.

Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 1, 2012 at 7:31 am

In a comment - "Here's a big shocker: What really sent this country into massive debt was big banks pressured and given incentives by liberal politicians to give anyone and everyone a home loan who in no way could realistically afford one or with the responsibility to pay one back--"

Actually the Ownership Society was a $440 billion subprime mortgage program whose architect was Karl Rove in the Bush White House. It was an audacious plan to gain a Republican constituency for the Republicans. Rove gave many interviews then, still in newspaper archives, where he took pride in his strategy that he claimed was inspired by the McKinley administration. Until the wheels came off.

According to the Denver Fed over half the Jumbo mortgages at that time were stated income, aka "Liar Loans". Did the government pressure the banks to do that? Apparently not. What turned yet another bubble's pop into a near-catastrophe was the unregulated derivatives and fraudulent securetization on a massive scale. The purposely moribund SEC at the time could not be a firewall.

While Washington's Pay-To-Play politics and deficient stewardship contributed to the debacle, blaming it all on the CRA and "moral hazard" is nonsense. The culprits have taken no responsibility, indicated no lessons learned, and want to be reelected to do it all again. In the mortgage and banking industries few have gone to jail but many became rich guaranteeing a recurrence. Closet Libertarian Greenspan testified before Congress that he was surprised that the banks didn't take better care of themselves. Of course the principals took very good care of themselves indeed even though the banks were public stock corporations.

If the Crash of '08-'09 had not been arrested by the stimulus program and other measures, many of our Righteous Right would now be out scrounging food for the squatters in their houses. There isn't enough money to do all that again.

Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

And who were the borrowers who signed all those loans? People who could not afford them? People who knew their income was not correctly stated? People who just wanted something for nothing? Ah yes, that's right evil Republicans made all those people take out those loans. So let's just keep giving out loans based on unsound economic data!

Posted by Robert Cox
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm

It would seem that some have misinterpreted my remarks to council. At no time did I ever ask the council to give the Origel's (the owners of Ava's) city money. I asked council to partner with us to help the store succeed, and to do so by directing staff to spend some time to evaluate options what could be done to help the market succeed. The only cost to the city at this point would be a small amount of the time of existing city staff. It is my hope that staff will be able to share their innovative ideas with us to make this business a success.

I reject the argument that high density downtown is a requirement and/or sufficient for a downtown grocery store's success. Many years ago, there were four grocery stores on Castro Street, and the density of our neighborhood was less then, than it is today.

What IS essential is to have a good business plan that offers people something of greater value than they can get shopping elsewhere. I believe if we think creatively about what Ava's can offer and how it can offer it, we will have the best chance to have a downtown market that will succeed becuase people WANT to shop there and spend their money there.

We on the board of Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association are trying to do what we can to brainstorm ideas to help. Anyone who would like to joing us can sign up for our brainstorming potluck, which will be held on Saturday, March 10, from 6-8PM. Go shopping at Ava's, buy your ingredients, and share a dish with fellow Mountain View residents while brainstorming how to make Ava's a greater success. For deatils, send e-mail to [email protected]

I hope to see many of you there!

-- Robert Cox,
-- Vice Chair, Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association

Posted by Greg
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

It takes about 15,000 people to support a full size grocery story.

If you want your grocery store within an easy walking distance, then expect to have 15,000 people within an easy walking distance.

Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Malls are run by the proprietors to maximize overall business and the malls profits. They choose a business mix to that end. City downtowns are more limited in that respect because the buildings are owned individually and the downtown isn't run as a single business by the town. That would not work well over time and poster Greg can make the arguments. But no one has suggested anything inappropriate at this point. No one in Mountain View is paying property taxes to run a store at a loss and there's little chance of that.

Ava's is well placed in another respect. Right out its back door across the alley is a recent city parking garage. It could hardly be more accessible to anyone outside the immediate area. For the Castro Street area to be viable for the degree of urbanization growing up around it it needs variety just as a mall does.

I don't know anything about the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association, but it sounds like just the thing to take an interest. If it's another yupster plot to run up home prices, well, there are other such associations that will be trying to do the same and hitting the city treasury for money to do it. That's how things work in this area and have for many years. Today's financial constraints will put a damper on the use of redevelopment or other public funds. Actually units of government and Chambers of Commerce have worked for years to further businesses with everything from advice to tax breaks to expediting the often too cumbersome permitting process. Foreign car companies negotiate very expensive deals with states to build factories. The governments in the Southeastern states often are way over the line in making sure that wages and property prices stay low and so on to get them.

I hope Ava's can work and will use it. If it can't it can't, but it's very premature and unnecessary to desire its demise on some political grounds.

a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm


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The Economics of Residential Rooftop Solar
By Sherry Listgarten | 49 comments | 4,802 views

Neighbors feeding neighbors: Rebyl Food connects Coastside community
By The Peninsula Foodist | 4 comments | 1,943 views

Dating/Dating Profile: Say What You Are Looking For
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,908 views

Why Give Up Delicious Things?
By Laura Stec | 13 comments | 1,717 views

Business tax in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 0 comments | 1,432 views