After close to 30 years of operation, Fry's Electronics officially shut down its Palo Alto store on Friday afternoon, leaving a gaping vacancy in one of the city's most hotly debated neighborhoods.
The closure of the electronics store at 340 Portage Ave., has been widely expected since late August, when Fry's declared its plan to cease operations before its lease for the former cannery building expires on Jan. 31. The complex — which is often referred to as the "Fry's site" — is part of a 60-acre area that the city is eyeing for redevelopment.
On Friday, the Fry's store had a notice on its doors advising patrons of the closure:
"To our Valued Customers: Due to the end of our lease, our Palo Alto store will close permanently on December 27, 2019. It has been a pleasure serving you at this location these many years, and we stand ready to provide all your electronics needs at Frys.com, or one of our five other Bay Area store locations. Thank you!"
Fry's also has locations in Campbell, Concord, Fremont, Sunnyvale and San Jose.
The property has been the subject of much debate even before Fry's had announced its plans to shut down. For years, Palo Alto officials have viewed the site as one of the most promising areas for new housing. The city's Housing Element had identified it as a site that could potentially accommodate 249 housing units.
In recent months, however, the city has lowered its expectations. The property owner, The Sobrato Organization, indicated that it has no plans to redevelop the old cannery building, which was constructed by Thomas Foon Chew in 1918 and which, by 1920, became the third largest cannery of fruits and vegetables in the world.
Earlier this year, an analysis by the city's consultant, Page & Turnbull, concluded that the building is eligible for listing in the California Register as an "individually significant" historical building because of its association with early 20th century agriculture.
Fry's was just the latest in a string of businesses that have occupied the site since the cannery shut down in 1949. Its tenants had included Coca-Cola, which used it as a bottling plant, various shipping and packaging companies, and — more recently — technology-related businesses.
View the city's most notable openings and closings during 2019 on an interactive map, which can be viewed here.