"Fry's is very sorry to be closing the store," Valerio told the Weekly in an email. "The people of the Palo Alto community, and surrounding environs, have been great customers and friends of Fry's and supportive of our business ever since we opened the store in 1990."
He noted that customers can still patronize the Palo Alto store until it closes, order products online or visit its other locations in Sunnyvale, Fremont, San Jose, Campbell or Concord.
The imminent departure of Fry's Electronics isn't entirely surprising. City leaders were aware of the lease expiration and have already begun planning for the future of the broader area around Fry's. The city's Housing Element calls for having up to 221 units of housing in this area, though the plan to actually construct homes seems highly unlikely in the near future, given the reluctance of the property owner, The Sobrato Organization, to replace the 1918 building.
On Wednesday morning, many of the shelves at the Portage Avenue store were empty. There were no customers in line and few employees near the front cash registers. One employee shrugged when asked about the store's potential closure and said he hasn't been informed about the store's future. A store manager directed inquiries to the company's corporate headquarters in San Jose.
The departure of Fry's from the former cannery site marks another transition for the building, which just this year was identified as historic because of its association with Bayside Canning Company. Founded by Thomas Foon Chew in 1906 in Alviso, the company expanded to Portage Avenue in 1918 and was the third-largest cannery of fruits and vegetables in the world by 1920, according to a report from Page & Turnbull, the city's historical consulting firm.
Despite its historic significance, the building has undergone numerous alterations and has gone through a variety of uses since the cannery closed in 1949 (by that time, it was owned by Safeway). Over the decades, it has housed as a warehouse, a packing company, a paper company and Maximart, a home-goods store that occupied the site between the mid-1960s and about 1978.
Now, the building is set to once again be reinvented. The parcel is zoned as RM-30, which allows developers to build up to 30 residential units per acre. In 1994, the council voted to accommodate Fry's Electronics by granting it a commercial-use extension stretching 20 years beyond the 1999 deadline, when the property was set to become zoned for housing.
Even at that time, council members were talking about the need to create a "specific plan" for the eclectic portion of Ventura, a process in which the city is at last engaging.
This story contains 518 words.
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