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Town Square

Editorial: For now, a required 'public benefit' slips away

Original post made on Mar 29, 2013

There is plenty of blame to go around in any assessment of why Miki's Farm Fresh Market will have to close its doors next week, after less than six months as the anchor tenant of the made-over Alma Plaza site near the intersection of East Meadow Drive and Alma Street.

Read the full editorial here Web Link posted Friday, March 29, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments

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Posted by The Blame Game
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2013 at 6:34 am

The editor seems intent on laying the blame for this fiasco on the developer, John McNellis.
They state that after buying the center in 2005 he withstood numerous efforts by neighbors and city officials to create an upgraded neighborhood-serving retail center with a decent-sized grocery store.
It is not until the end that you find out that in 2003, Albertsons offered a plan that included an enlarged store, and rebuilding the center's retail area. What happened??? the city council did not go along. Why???? The Weekly does not tell us, but shift back to blaming McNellis
The editors skip the rest of the story--Albertsons got fed up and sold the center to McNellis with a clause limiting the size of any new store that would be built.
So isn't the City Council to blame? Do not forget the Charleston Road moratorium that was decided on by the council in the dead of night, even though it was not on the meeting agenda. That was also a nail in the coffin of Alma Plaza.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 6:45 am

The biggest issue with Miki's is that unless you live in the complex itself, you will drive there. There won't be enough business to sustain a store like Miki's as a walk-in location.

The second biggest issue is size-- we now know, based on success and failure of other grocery stores, that a full-service grocery store needs 24,000 square feet.

The third issue though was the business plan. The owner sounds like a great manager, but, it usually takes two years to establish a new business firmly. With only six months of operating expenses in the bank, it was a pretty big gamble from the start.



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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:12 am

My take is that I blame the City and the NIMBY attitude of several local residents.

The City should lead, take note from the people but not the vocal minority. There should have been surveys of all local residents and market research, not just listening to who was making the most noise.

The City needs to reach out to the community to hear what we think. We can't all spend hours on Monday evenings waiting for the opportunity to give a couple of minutes opinion. We can't all be expected to come to a one time community outreach meeting on a midweek evening. But, we can be reached by telephone surveys and mail surveys, and these would reach everyone within a proposed catchment area to a proposed development.

Rather than spending money on experts, spend the money on old fashioned market research by those who are expert in surveying the public.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:15 am

If I remember correctly, it was the neighbors that didn't want the new, largerr grocery store. The one thing thst has often puzzled me is why neighbors get so much of an opinion for replacing existing structures. Unfortunately, it is now an ugly, forbidding structure with housing that doesn't seem to be selling.


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Posted by jake
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

I'm very certain Miki's will be a success if they let it run for 6 more months. The business plan is just wrong or plan to be wrong!


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Posted by The Blame Game
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:54 am

Apparently McNellis is now suing Miki for back rent after originally telling him he would not have to pay rent for the first year! I suspect Miki was a little naive in accepting John McNellis' word as bond, when he should have gotten it all in writing. Now it is just , " he said, he said". Perhaps there were witnesses to the conversation.

I for one never saw any advertising for Miki's, anywhere. That is probably why most people in Palo Alto did not know it existed in time to try going there. Another na´vetÚ on Miki's part...you have to get the word out. It is a tax deductible expense.

The original customer base that Miki's was supposed to serve, the very reason the store is built backwards and the parkinge lot is in the back, never materialized. That is probably because the housing development being built there is much too expensive for what a buyer gets: poor location, lots of noise, close-set, three story houses on impossibly small lots, high price, poor layouts, and many of the necessities at an additional cost. Oh, and they are poorly constructed out of obviously cheap materials. So hardly any have sold, even in this "hot" housing market. They are a rip- off.

Like everyone has mentioned previously, Miki's was pretty much doomed from the start.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 11:27 am

So is it true that the houses are not selling?

This surprises me slightly as almost anything being built in the Gunn area of Palo Alto seems to be sold very quickly. It just may be that the market for new townhomes is saturated and the poorest of the crop are the least interesting to potential buyers.


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Posted by South PA resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm

The blame game from Midtown says: "It is not until the end that you find out that in 2003, Albertsons offered a plan that included an enlarged store, and rebuilding the center's retail area. What happened??? the city council did not go along. Why????

In 2003 Albertsons wanted to build a 50,000 sq. ft. grocery store, well over the 20,000 sq. ft. city building code for stores. The neighbors all complained and said it was too big and would attract too many vehicles. Albertson's would not accept a 20,000 sq. ft. store and they were not prepared to fight. Albertson's then just turned around and sold the whole property to McNellis and made a nice little profit and walked away.

With these mega Safeways on Palo Alto's border in Mountain View and Menlo Park, limiting grocery stores to 20,000 sq. ft. is ridiculous.