News

Organic grocer to open store at Alma Plaza

Official announcement to be made Wednesday in front of Palo Alto City Hall

A former manager at Berkeley Bowl, a popular supermarket that specializes in produce and organic food, will open a grocery store at the new Alma Plaza development in Palo Alto, city officials have disclosed.

The market will be the plaza's first retail tenant, according to the city.

Mayor Sid Espinosa will officially announce the name of the grocer Wednesday (July 20) at 1 p.m. at King Plaza in front of Palo Alto City Hall, along with Chamber of Commerce CEO Paula Sandas and Alma Plaza developer John McNellis.

City officials told the Weekly Monday the Alma Plaza supermarket would be an independent store that is not part of any chain.

"We're thrilled to have an independent grocer of this caliber in Palo Alto," McNellis said. "Its remarkable quality of produce, its commitment to community, and the exceptional personalized service it will offer cannot be overstated."

The grocer, which leased 19,000 square feet at the plaza, is expected to open the store in July 2012.

The entire development on the former site of the Alma Plaza shopping center will also include 37 homes, 15 units of affordable housing, a small park and a community room. It is located on Alma Street near East Meadow Drive.

— Casey Moore and Gennady Sheyner

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by mini-grocery
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Mini-grocery stores may have worked in the last century, but today's consumers want a lot more selection than they can offer. Mountain View has a variety of European and Asian grocery stores and is getting a new giant Safeway on San Antonio Road. Who really wants to go to these mini-stores in Palo Alto when there are so many better choices a few miles away.


Like this comment
Posted by Midlander
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Wow. Finally, *finally*, a new grocery at Alma Plaza.
Be still my beating heart!

And to mini-grocery above, yes, I'd have much preferred a full
size modern supermarket. But at this stage I'll take what I can get.

Hopefully even a small grocery will add a little competitive
pressure to businesses like Piazzas. Which I suspect they'd
have preferred to avoid, but such is capitalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Happy to See a Grocery Store
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I live within easy walking distance, and look forward to a grocery store in Alma plaza.


Like this comment
Posted by Flo
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Zanottos! please please please?
Trader Joes would be nice too!


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 6:30 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Another "TRIUMPH" of Palo Alto planning. I give it 3 years.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

I am very confused about the need for making an announcement in front of City Hall and the need for making an announcement about the announcement.

Is the mayor expecting large numbers of excited Palo Altans to be there waiting with baited breath to hear the news of who the lucky replacement will be? Is he expecting a throng of media and paparazzi to be running live coverage? Is the news going to be a banner breaking news headline on Palo Alto Online? Are we going to get a CANS alert?

Seriously????


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:17 am

I agree with resident--not sure why they need to make a big announcement at City Hall. If you think about, the COuncil should be embarrassed by how this whole thing has played out for the last 10+ years. Not sure why PA officials think it is a red letter day when the city will get an overpriced, undersized grocery store. I just hope that this new grocery store doe snot create too many traffic problems for the neighbors--I am sure they have enjoyed the years of no traffic at Alma Plaza and I also hope that it does not provide any competition for JJ&F.


Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

I am hoping for a Trader Joes. Another high-end market (Andronico's or Whole Foods, etc.) is unnecessary with over priced Piazza's down the street. Obviously it won't be Safeway. Is Lucky coming back!???!
I am interested, but surely won't be at some BIG OLE announcement to find out! How corny! LOL!


Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

I'm happy to hear the "almost news!" I agree that it's so much bureaucratic posturing to announce that they'll be announcing (with great fanfare) who it will be on the plaza. Why does the image of "The Emperor Has No Clothes" come to mind?

I contacted "New Leaf" about the availability of the location and would love it if they are the new store, but will be happy to have any grocery store in the plaza and it will certainly be the blessing that Lucky's/Albertson's used to be... an alternative to jumping into the car to drive to a market for some forgotten item, if not several.

I doubt it will be TJs as they declined the site before as being too close to the Mountain View store. The only reason that might change is if they're being squeezed out of Mountain View by the new mega shopping center going in.

BTW, this drama has really been playing out for closer to 20 years. I've been watching it for almost 17 years and found a newspaper article that was discussing it more than 3 years before that!


Like this comment
Posted by TJ lover
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

I would love to see a Trader Joes at that location. But if it is just another generic mini-market (like the store that used to be there), then I would rarely if ever visit.


Like this comment
Posted by papandriau
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

if wonder about making announcement about the announcement, that's called politics.


Like this comment
Posted by RH
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 11:03 am

So nice to read this news! To those who react with pessimism -- you have your alternatives (driving in your car.) To those who react with skepticism -- I agree that it has been too long a wait, and now we can try to support this. To those who respond with enthusiasm -- I am with you! So nice to be able to walk/ride our bikes to shop for fresh produce. That's the nice thing about the Palo Alto model of 'neighborhood centers', and this makes living here a pleasure.

I also appreciate Mayor Espinoza's effort to announce at City Hall. Instead of ascribing ulterior motives, why not take him at his word -- to be doing his best to help us recover our nice neighborhood?

See you at the grand opening, shopping bag in hand!


Like this comment
Posted by edward
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm

People ... the article says "not part of any chain." So, no TJ's, etc.


Like this comment
Posted by FoodEater
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Albertson's market was a mid-size store and failed in this location so hopefully this mini-market with organic foods will appeal more to the neighborhood.

I'd like to see a Lunardi's market in Palo Alto. I use to work near the one in Los Gatos and shopped there all the time. Maybe at the Edgewood Plaza?


Like this comment
Posted by PA Native
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

if it's anything like Berkeley Bowl, it will be great to have this market in Palo Alto!


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

A "Walk in" "Super Market"?
Make it 2 years.


Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Wow, if it's anything like Berkeley Bowl, we're in for a treat!


Like this comment
Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Does the first person who correctly guesses the identity of the new store get a prize?


Like this comment
Posted by McNellis made a deal
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm

McNellis made a deal with Albertsons when he bought the property that he would keep the next market small. That's why it is small, no other reason.
Look it up.


Like this comment
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Palo Alto has never had a grocery store of the same high caliber as the wonderful Berkeley Bowl with real think globally, buy locally spirit and some of the best quality produce I've ever seen in the Bay Area. What a treat for the East Meadow neighborhood! Now if Palo Alto could only find its own Cheeseboard Cooperative!


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:27 am

to McNellis made a deal:

You need to look up the facts before you make charges about McNellis.

Here is a tsory about how there was supposed to be a large grocery store in Alma Plaza (which probably would have kept it all retial), but the neighbors and the NIMBYists objected and the council kowtowed to them

Web Link

Her eis a second story, after the plan to build a large grocery store fell through:
Web Link

"Restriction on mall's deed of sale bans any food store more than 18,000 square feet"

So those are the facts. Look them up.


Like this comment
Posted by McNellis made a deal
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:49 am

Svatoid, from your own web reference:
In selling its 5.6-acre property to an investment group led by McNellis Partners in February, the Albertsons grocery chain included a restriction in the sale: No part of the land would be used for a "supermarket," at least in the legal sense of the word.

The deed defined a supermarket "as any store or department containing more than 18,000 square feet of ground floor area, including aisle space and storage, primarily devoted to the retail sale of food for off-premises consumption."

The restriction, it continued, is attached to the land, regardless of who may own it in the future. Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

McNellis made a deal:

Fine. You want to nitpick words, that is okay.
Bottom line, part of the sale included a restriction on the size of the grocery store that can be built:
"In selling its 5.6-acre property to an investment group led by McNellis Partners in February, the Albertsons grocery chain included a restriction in the sale: No part of the land would be used for a "supermarket," at least in the legal sense of the word."

You can argue that McNellis "made a deal". However the question is did McNellis ask for that. I think not--sounds to me like Albertson's wanted to restrict any potential future competition.
Also I am sure McNellis realized, given the history of the project, that that the neighbors would shoot down any large grocery store (which, by the way would have been good for Palo Alto as a whole, but the good of the city never come sinto consideration with these nieghborhood groups).

You can argue that McNellis "made a deal". I will say that he went along with the restrictions posed by Albertsons.
Bottom line, the city lost a neighborhood shopping center thanks to the efforts of a group of people that know how to use the "Palo Alto Process" for their advantage and the cowardice of the city council.


Like this comment
Posted by leaving
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 20, 2011 at 10:12 am

the new buyer should leave there also.


Like this comment
Posted by McNellis made a deal
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Nobody is making charges, just reporting the deal McNellis made with Albertson's.
Please do not misrepresent what I wrote, just so you can get your neighborhood-hostility into a message.
Also, in the stories you referred to, there are a number of markets in Palo Alto that are bigger than 20,000 square feet.
I would greatly appreciate your not distorting the facts, and what people have written just so you can vent your anger at neighborhoods.


Like this comment
Posted by AGREED
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm

YES,I AGREE,IT IS REALLY A WOLF WEARING THE SHEEP FUR.


Like this comment
Posted by AGREED
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm

NEXT TIME EVERYONE SHOULD CHECK IT LEFT AND RIGHT CAREFULLY TO SEE IF IT ACTUALLY WANTS TO BITE US OR NOT.


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

"Nobody is making charges, just reporting the deal McNellis made with Albertson's."
You are misrepresenting the events--it is not something that McNellis wanted--it something that ALbertson's wanted. Had another developer bought the land they would have been bound bythe same restriction.

"Also, in the stories you referred to, there are a number of markets in Palo Alto that are bigger than 20,000 square feet."
Then you need to take that up with the author of those articles. But besides, soon to be defunct Andronico's, what stores are bigger than 20K square feet? The Trader Joes in T&C? JJ&F? Midtown Safeway? Whole Foods near downtown? Piazza's on Charleston? Country Sun and Mollie Stone's on California Avenue?
Please let me know.

"I would greatly appreciate your not distorting the facts, and what people have written just so you can vent your anger at neighborhoods."
I am not distorting anything. The fact is that McNellis (or any other developer) is bound by deed restrictions to build a small grocery store. the other fact is that the neighbors fought a larger grocery store. And in the end their actions, and the inaction of the city council, cost as a neighborhood shopping center.
You may feel the need to cast McNellis as the villain in this piece, but he is not.


Like this comment
Posted by McNellis made a deal
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I cannot look into McNellis heart and what he really really wanted.
He bought a property with the restriction on the size of the grocery. No one forced him to buy it.


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm

"He bought a property with the restriction on the size of the grocery. No one forced him to buy it."
So what is your point? You initially claimed that McNellis made a deal with ALbertson's, now you are saying that he bought a property with a deed restriction--that deed restriction would have gone to anyone who bought the property. Bottom line, the only grocery store that could be built is a small one. Yes, no one forced him to buy it and I am sure the neighbors that opposed larger grocery stores would have been happy to see the area sit empty.

BTW, will you provide a list of grocery stores in PA that are greater than 20K square feet?


Like this comment
Posted by McNellis made a deal
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

He did make the deal with Alberson. It was Alberston whose set the condition that there would only be a small grocery and McNellis accepted it. What is your problem in understanding this?
He gets to build 37 homes and 15 BMR units according to the story above. That yields more than a tidy few million dollars profit. So maybe he didn't fight too hard to make the grocery bigger.
The neighbors fought hard for a larger grocery so your statement that they would be happy not having anything there is paranoid fantasy. Maybe you were out of town when it happened. Or you make things up to prop up your anti-neighborhood bias.

PS The names of the stores that are over 20,000 square feet are in the stories you cited above. Feel free to look them up further.


Like this comment
Posted by Svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Mcnellis made a deal-
The neighbors opposed a 50k square foot , 44k square foot and 37 square foot store. When a 13k square foot store was proposed they lobbied for a larger one-possibly as a ploy to hinder development. Had they not opposed the larger stores we would still have a neighborhood shopping center instead of housing.
How could mc nellis fight for a larger grocery store if there was a deed restriction in place? Why would or any developer do that knowing the opposition to a large store?
No, it was the neighbors and a cowardly city council that cost us a viable shopping center. And yes there are two sites in palo alto that are slightly larger than 20k still pitiful compared to the stores in out neighboring cities


Like this comment
Posted by food
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 23, 2011 at 12:55 am

Boy,how I wish they will offer more variety of different foods. American foods are safe to eat because there are very few choice in supermarket,it is easy to manage the quality of them.When I looked at a menu in a foreign restr , I ordered a fish without spiky small bone,I mean a real fish without spiky bones not the one whose bones were taken away by the chef.It tastes so good,I only found a long spine bone in it,ithe fish looked like a long ball around the spine.After I ate it all,my friend told me I just ate a fish that could send me to death,it is called "he tueng or hue tung" it means river dolphin,it looks like a sea dolphin,only much smaller.In Japan,people would risk their lives to eat it and of course,there will be a licensed special chef to prepare it when it reaches age 1.I was scared to death after I learned it,but it turns out fine I ate one which is under age1,so it is safe.So next time I do not dare to eat fish or any unfamiliar animal meat any more.


Like this comment
Posted by food
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 23, 2011 at 1:18 am

Just find out it is called river pig


Like this comment
Posted by food
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 23, 2011 at 1:21 am

in japan it is called fugu


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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