Charleston Plaza suffers retail exodus | January 7, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 7, 2022

Charleston Plaza suffers retail exodus

Property owner on the hunt for new tenants after Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and others leave

by Kevin Forestieri

One of Mountain View's most prominent shopping centers abutting U.S. Highway 101 is looking like a ghost town lately, with multiple large retailers closing down or relocating over the course of 2021.

It started with Bed Bath & Beyond, which shut down its location on East Charleston Road early in the year. Just months later, REI announced it was relocating its store to Sunnyvale, and soon after that Best Buy announced it was closing its store as of the end of October.

Local residents are lamenting the loss of retail, and worries are swirling over social media that the closures are a sign that the plaza may soon redevelop into offices or even housing. But city officials say the property is expected to remain a shopping center and that the property owner is already on the hunt for new tenants.

In the case of Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond, both companies announced in 2021 that they were cutting down the number of store locations across the country. In February, Best Buy revealed it had laid off 5,000 workers and planned to close more "large format" stores like the one on Charleston Road. The company saw a surge in digital sales and is revamping its workforce to better accommodate services like shipping and home delivery orders.

Bed Bath & Beyond announced in January that it was closing 200 locations by the end of the year, including a short list of 43 on the chopping block by the end of February. That short list included the Mountain View location.

For REI, the situation is different. The company put out a press release that it sought to relocate to an even larger location to "offer a wide assortment of quality gear and expertise for the south bay's most popular outdoor activities." The new location is at 130 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, the former location of a Toys "R" Us that closed in 2018.

The large retail leases in the Charleston Plaza were expiring in 2021, according to Kimberly Thomas, assistant to the city manager. Real estate brokers representing the property owner told the city there was a "mutual interest" not to renew the leases and that there is an effort to replace them.

"The property owner is interested in securing new tenants consistent with the existing zoning, and the property is being advertised and marketed for commercial or industrial uses consistent with the land uses allowed in the city's (industrial) district," Thomas said.

The existing zoning for the property is industrial and allows for limited manufacturing, research and development uses, but the general plan designation for the area is a hybrid of both industrial and "regional commercial" uses.

The latter encompasses retail stores that are designed to provide specialty goods and a "wide range" of merchandise that requires a broad regional customer base, according to the city.


There's a lively discussion about Charleston Plaza taking place on Town Square, the community discussion forum on Palo Alto Online. Go to and share your thoughts.

Email Kevin Forestieri at [email protected]


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2021 at 11:12 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

From the rumor mill, these were forced out either by increased rents or similar. Staff were not happy at the move, and presumably Starbucks and Chipotle will find it hard to maintain a customer base without the anchors.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2021 at 10:11 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

I was told by an assistant manager of one of these businesses that this property is now owned by Google and they plan to build employee housing here. Can anyone confirm this?

Posted by TrinaL
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 23, 2021 at 10:33 am

TrinaL is a registered user.

Mountain View needs more retail options. We are forced to order online or take our business to other cities. I am surprised to learn that they want to replace the retail tenants here, given the rumors that have been swirling.

Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2021 at 10:35 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

Oh, boy! Holiday Joy!

What is best? Office, retail or housing by the freeway?

It will be interesting to see if a Tech Titan Santa grabs this present and runs with it!

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 23, 2021 at 10:37 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The last time I visited any of these stores they were vacant of interested buyers. They can't stay in business if no one comes to buy anything. The people are buying on Amazon or at Cosco. I think this property is part of Google's North project. Great place for housing. The whole section on Charlston from San Antonio to the 101 on ramp is old commercial property that qualifies as prime for redevelopemnt. A lot of the buildings in the back section are "for lease'" and not viable as business locations.

Posted by Josie
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 23, 2021 at 11:59 am

Josie is a registered user.

BBB and BB were the two stores I visited most often at the Center, and I enjoyed interacting with staff. It's very inconvenient to have to drive further, so I'll probably be buying more stuff online. Oh well.

Posted by Pamela Harter
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 23, 2021 at 12:19 pm

Pamela Harter is a registered user.

The rumors by staff and managers at the stores was that the leases were not renewed and that the owners wanted to get rid of the retail stores and develop housing. I was shocked when Bed, Bath and Beyond shut down the store. Then found out Best Buy was leaving. I am shocked to hear that the "real story" is that people could not or did not renew the leases??? this is all sounding shady to me.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

"Greed is eternal."

Posted by JonnyK
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 23, 2021 at 12:56 pm

JonnyK is a registered user.

Now, build some housing for essential workers there. Thanks.

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Dec 23, 2021 at 1:35 pm

chris is a registered user.

The US has at least 40% too many stores. The closings are called "rationalization."

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 23, 2021 at 6:01 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Both Best Buy and Bed Bath and Beyond have been struggling for years because their bricks and mortar store business models no longer are viable. Also for this site, sky high rents, the irrationally expensive govt-mandated & so-called $15 "living wage" for entry level workers, and a bad location far from other retailers dooms it. For we who live in MV, there are far better stores along El Camino Real --- in Sunnyvale and at San Antonio Rd, and NOT in Palo Alto.

My guess is that this is prime Google office land. Far better to have offices than building more rental housing that just will create a greater traffic and overcrowding mess for MV and South Palo Alto.

So, MV seems determined to turn itself in to a Google "company town". What happens to MV when Google becomes irrelevant, like Rochester NY when Kodak and Xerox died, or Pittsburgh PA, when the steel industry collapsed, or Detroit etc when the US auto industry collapsed?

Posted by BobH
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2021 at 10:07 am

BobH is a registered user.

We went to the new (?) REI in Sunnyvale last month. It was ironic that our route to get there went past the old one on Charleston. It's a much longer drive :-(

It will be interesting to see what goes into these stores.

Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2021 at 11:31 am

resident3 is a registered user.

I wish there was a better model for stores that would not eliminate the local jobs or the option to have in person customer service.

Not everything has to be displayed but maybe with smaller spaces, these vendors could get creative and have service options that would spare us the driving and still offer if nothing else promotion of their products.

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 24, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Me is a registered user.

Would be nice to have more restaurants. More and more people are not cooking these days. No more housing!

Posted by He Must Go
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 27, 2021 at 10:34 am

He Must Go is a registered user.

Those retail stores in that location need to go. Way over conjested area. besides Mountain View has another Best Buy on El Camino, it has been there for several years. So, I not sure where the leaving town chant is coming from.

Posted by blah
a resident of another community
on Dec 29, 2021 at 11:36 pm

blah is a registered user.

I believe the PetSmart is leaving in February 2022 according to what an employee told me a couple of months ago.

Posted by Heckity
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 1, 2022 at 12:39 am

Heckity is a registered user.

Google. Petsmart closes Jan 15. A real shame but MV council is so whored out to Google it’s useless.

Posted by Heckity
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 1, 2022 at 12:44 am

Heckity is a registered user.

Google. Thanks MV city council. They’s so whored out to Goog it’s useless.

Posted by Danseuse
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2022 at 8:37 pm

Danseuse is a registered user.

It's very disappointing to hear that these stores will soon be gone. I live in Menlo Park, which has become a desert. Most of the independent stores downtown are gone and have been replaced by small chain stores and many people do not realize that they are chains. I love shopping and do not enjoy buying things online. I find no joy in staying at home, sitting in front of my computer and ordering things online. I want to hold, touch, feel, smell items before I buy them. There is no joy in packing up wrong sizes and having to make a trip to the post office or ups. The business which I miss the most is Fry's Electronics.

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