Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 8, 2011

News Digest

Grocer eyes Edgewood Plaza for new market

A North Carolina-based, European-style specialty market is eyeing Edgewood Plaza to launch its first West Coast store.

Representatives from The Fresh Market attended Monday evening's Edgewood Eats, a near-weekly public gathering of food-trucks at Edgewood organized by residents last year to create a positive attraction at the defunct neighborhood shopping center.

Hundreds of people showed up at the event, with long lines for lobster rolls, Indian, Chinese and Thai cuisine, and barbecue. Two parking lots and street parking were filled to capacity, leaving hungry truck-food connoisseurs in a holding pattern for parking spaces.

An anonymous source said Fresh Market representatives were impressed. Edgewood's developer, John Tze, has not returned phone calls regarding the potential deal and a Fresh Market spokeswoman said the company could not comment on the status of any potential market at Edgewood at this time.

The Fresh Market has 101 stores in 20 states from Massachusetts to Arkansas and west to Illinois. Ten more stores will open soon, according to the company website. It offers fresh produce and meats, specialty food products, a bakery and coffee bar, among other amenities.

The company issued an IPO in November 2010 and listed fiscal-year sales increases of 13 percent, on a net income of $22.9 million, according to its Feb. 23 report.

Deadline for city's Internet cut-off rescinded

An Internet service provider that last week threatened to pull the plug on the City of Palo Alto's Internet connection has agreed to keep the city hooked up until a formal agreement is reached.

The nonprofit Internet Systems Consortium (ISC), which has been providing free Internet access to Palo Alto for 17 years, gave the city a two-week notice of termination March 29. The service was to end April 14.

Stephen Stuart, a Crescent Park resident who built the original Internet server and arranged the deal for the city, decided to rescind the informal arrangement after city planners gave a tentative approval to AT&T to put a 50-foot cell tower on St. Albert the Great Church at 1095 Channing Ave.

Stuart, who lives on the block, argued in a letter to the city that the approval violates the city's zoning regulations and threatens to bring down the property values on the block. His severed relationship surprised city officials and prompted them to scramble to find a new Internet provider.

Since then, however, the ISC and Palo Alto City Manager James Keene reached an agreement to keep City Hall plugged into the Internet until the city either reaches a formal agreement with the consortium or finds a new provider, Keene announced in a statement Monday. The consortium is now putting together a proposal listing the services it provides to the city and the terms under which it would continue to provide these services.

Keene said in the statement that the consortium has also agreed to give some technical assistance to Palo Alto along with a "reasonable amount of time" to switch to a new provider if the city opts to do so.

Keene said city and consortium officials have agreed to meet soon and determine the best way to move forward.

Wi-Fi antennas approved for downtown Palo Alto

Palo Altans treasure their privacy, even at the expense of wireless reception.

So when AT&T proposed installing two Wi-Fi antennas on the balcony of Hotel President in downtown Palo Alto, dozens of Hotel residents came out to Monday night's City Council meeting to protest the plan.

Despite the residents' concerns about the potential health and privacy impacts of the new antennas, the council voted 8-1, with Karen Holman dissenting, to give AT&T permission. The company claimed that the new equipment is necessary to keep up with swelling demand for wireless services downtown. The company already has antennas on the roof of the seven-story building.

"This is the least intrusive means for filling the increasing gap in capacity that AT&T has identified in this downtown area," AT&T attorney Paul Albritton told the council Monday.

The council's approval followed recommendations from planning staff and the Planning and Transportation Commission, which voted 5-1 to support the project. The planning commission also required AT&T to submit evidence that the new technology's radiation would be within federal guidelines and asked the company to install and maintain the new technology without entering residents' apartments.

"Having Palo Alto become known as an area where we don't have dead zones is very critical for our economic development and our emergency preparations," Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd said.

— Gennady Sheyner

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