Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center could soon have a new grocer in the form of Andronico's Community Markets, according to center redeveloper Sand Hill Property Co.
If Andronico's does enter into an agreement for the grocery space, it would occupy a space only slightly smaller than the 25,000-square-foot store it operated at Stanford Shopping Center until 2011.
The news this week pleased residents of the Duveneck/St. Francis and Crescent Park neighborhoods, who have been waiting anxiously for a new grocery retailer.
Edgewood, which is located at 2080 Channing Ave. near Embarcadero Road and U.S. Highway 101, has been without an anchor grocery store since March 31, when East Coast-based The Fresh Market pulled out. The market's closure came just as other smaller retail stores were opening in the renovated shopping center, raising neighbors' hopes that Edgewood would realize its potential as a thriving community shopping district.
The Fresh Market store was said to be profitable, but the company closed its half-dozen California locations to concentrate on East Coast and Midwest expansion, officials stated at the time. Since then, The Fresh Market continued to hold its 10-year lease of the property and was reportedly seeking a new grocer who potentially could lease the building out at a higher rate than Fresh Market was paying to Sand Hill.
Sand Hill's John Tze announced the news about Bay Area-based Andronico's in an email to resident Diana Nemet, who has actively sought another grocer.
"I'm pleased to let you and the neighborhood know that yesterday Andronico's issued a term sheet that seems workable to me. I've spoken with them and The Fresh Market, and all parties are trying to bring Andronico's to Edgewood as quickly as we can," Tze wrote.
Tze's email followed, by just three weeks, Palo Alto officials' decision that Sand Hill would have to pay $500 per day if the vacant grocery space isn't filled by Sept. 30. City Manager James Keene said that Palo Alto could impose that penalty under its zoning ordinance because Sand Hill would be in violation of its 2012 planned-community ordinance.
That ordinance specified the property owner "shall ensure the continued use of the 20,000-square-foot building as a grocery store for the life of the project" and restore two commercial buildings and the grocery store as part of a public-benefit exchange for permission to build 10 homes.
Residents lobbied the city heavily last month to impose the fine, even asking the City Council to impose stiffer penalties. But on Tuesday, neighborhood leaders lauded the news regarding Andronico's.
The swiftness with which the developer found a new grocer since the fine was announced did not escape some residents, who indicated in emails they would keep up the same kind of pressure on city leaders so the store might open more quickly.
That strategy has so far paid off.
"Thank you to every one of you that wrote a letter, went door to door and/or showed up at the council meeting (and) put your support behind a solution," neighborhood leaders Deborah Baldwin, Carla Cavalho, Jeff Levinsky and Lenore Cymes wrote in an email to residents. "Your collective voice told Sand Hill and the city that we wanted this resolved. We stood as a community to impress upon both the city and Sand Hill that there needs to be consequences to not fulfilling the permit requirements.
"With the same collective energy, we will welcome Andronico's to Edgewood Plaza once they open their doors. And, they will hear from us, just in case they don't carry our favorite ice cream or cheese or (dare we say it) candy," the residents wrote, referring to the prior grocer's offering of an abundance of candy.
Tze and an Andronico's spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment. But the announcement is a turn-around from the store's previous position: Andronico's was among nearly 40 grocers who initially declined leasing the Edgewood property, according to a list compiled earlier this year by Tze.
Andronico's, considered a high-end market, operates five stores in the Bay Area. The City of Los Altos listed Andronico's as its second highest sales-tax producer in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Andronico's has two stores in Berkeley and one each in Los Altos, San Anselmo and San Francisco.
Andronico's reconsideration of the Edgewood property comes on the heels of major changes for the company's executive team. The grocer announced in June that Suzy Monford, head of innovation at Woolworths Limited and a strategic and innovation consultant through her company Food Sport International, would be taking over as CEO.
Monford plans to bring together technology and traditional brick and mortar operations, and she plans to add health-oriented retail to the Andronico's brand, she told the trade publication Supermarket News in June.
The company announced Cheryl Hughes as chief financial officer on Sept. 10. Hughes was an executive in the oil-trading industry and former 15-year veteran director of U.S. finance for Circle K Stores, Inc.
Andronico's closed its Stanford store in July 2011 after 14 years. At that time, the family-owned business was working through a recapitalization with an unnamed equity partner, the Weekly reported. The company reorganized under CEO Gary Barrett, a professional in turning companies around, whom Monford has replaced.