For years, East Palo Alto city officials have attempted to convince developers to build a supermarket in town so residents don't have to drive to other cities to buy their groceries.
Now, it looks like the city may finally get a supermarket, and without the city doing anything to make it happen.
"It's a happy coincidence," Mayor Ruben Abrica said.
Mi Pueblo, a San Jose-based company that operates 11 markets in Northern California, including one in Mountain View, wants to move into the former Circuit City store in the Gateway 101 Shopping Center. The shopping center store owners have to vote, in the next 10 days, to approve the market.
The city, which owns a small piece of the center that includes Home Depot, has already approved the idea by a 3-2 City Council vote Tuesday night. Councilmen A. Peter Evans and David Woods dissented.
"We've been forever trying to get a supermarket in town and now it's happening on its own," Abrica said.
A developer has proposed building a market as part of a larger development at Bay Road and University Avenue but wants to build a condominium high-rise as part of the deal, Abrica said. Mi Pueblo moving into the Circuit City building near U.S. Highway 101 wouldn't rule out a second market being built on Bay Road, Abrica said.
The Circuit City store is about 15,000 square feet and would have to be converted for supermarket use.
"A supermarket would be a great addition to our community," Abrica said. "The community has been asking for one for a long time."
East Palo Alto hasn't had a supermarket since a former Palo Alto Co-Op Market, which briefly occupied the Bay Road and University Avenue site, closed in the early 1970s.
Mi Pueblo is based in San Jose and has stores in Hayward (2), Modesto (2), Mountain View, Watsonville, Oakland, Salinas and San Jose (3), with a 12th market set to open in Pittsburg.
Mi Pueblo was founded in 1991 by Juvenal Chavez, who had been employed at Stanford University washing test tubes when he decided to quit Stanford and go into business with his brother, who was running a small market.
The proposed East Palo Alto Mi Pueblo would have 175-225 employees and generate $800,000 to $1.2 million in sales-tax revenue a year based on sales of $15-20 million a year, according to the company's proposal. The market would be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 365 days a year.