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giant supermarket coming to San Antonio Shopping Center

Original post made by shopper, South of Midtown, on Sep 6, 2010

NIMBYs have killed all attempts by developers to build bigger supermarkets in Palo Alto over the last couple of decades. Palo Alto residents are forced to shop in other cities if they want more than the minimal selection offered by the local stores. Maybe we'll just have to drive to Mountain View now, since a 65000 sq. ft. Safeway is planned for the San Antonio Shopping Center. That's more than 3 times the size of anything in Palo Alto right now.

Story in the Mercury-News: Web Link

Comments (35)

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I already go to Mountain View SafeWay for malt vinegar and Blueberry Crunch that Midtown is too small to carry. I understand the new store will have valet parking and a stand-up bar, and Double Plastic Bagging on request.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:08 pm

With Trader Joes in town and county why go anywhere else? apart from monthly visits to Costco for family supplies.
If you go early or late parking for TJ is a snap.

Posted by shopper
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Trader Joes sells interesting products at good prices, but their selection is extremely limited, especially for fresh foods.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2010 at 5:28 am

This sounds like it is going to be a massive addition to an already congested area.

I agree that we need more supermarkets to feed our ever growing population, but upon reading the article, the key point and killer to this project are the 325 - 350 apartments.

"The five-story mixed-use buildings would have four stories of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, above a ground floor with commercial space. Plans call for 325 to 350 apartments."

I thought about 300+ homes were going to be built on the old Mayfield Mall/HP site.

This is going to be a mess.

Posted by Too Much Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2010 at 6:37 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

I for one expect our family will be using it. We already use San Antonio center for most of our needs - it will be a one stop shopping experience that Palo Alto cannot and will not provide.

Trader Joe's is a boutique, so is Whole Foods. Piazza's, Midtown Safeway and the other small markets are fine for incidentals, Costco is OK for certain items, but real selection doesn't exist in any one of them.

Posted by Too Much Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

The city of Palo Alto needs to step and nip this project in the bud.
It will create too much traffic in Palo Alto and will be unfair competition for JJ&F. WE have the people in Palo Alto who are good at stopping "large" grocery stores and dealing with traffic issues.
They need to be mobilized for this issue

Posted by RogerRoger
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I hope this whole project gets approved and finished quickly. The midtown Safeway is valuable to me for "Hey can you run out and pick up something" trips, but for large weekly shopping, I use the Shoreline Safeway. A brand spanking new mega-safeway with a Starbucks is long overdue in this location. I will miss going to Shoreline though, the managers do a great job down there and the employees are really friendly.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Talking of JJ&F--- what is their plan?
Many years ago it used to have a good selection of international foods to cater to the Stanford graduate students and faculty and the butcher had unusual things like kidneys and sweetbreads---last time we were there, a few weeks ago, all that was gone and it was rather plain and rundown.
These days you can get international foods on San Antonio and unusual foods at TJ-- what is JJ&Fs business model moving forward?--- they could build up their fresh butcher and fresh fish market selection as those are both sadly lacking in Palo Alto

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm

"they could build up their fresh butcher and fresh fish market selection as those are both sadly lacking in Palo Alto"

Probably not a good business move in liberal Palo Alto where vegetarianism is on the rise.

Personally, I'd like to see a Ranch 99 or Lion's in Palo Alto, but I know those companies won't deal with the NIMBYs or Palo Alto Process, regardless of the local demographics.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Really, PA residents want to be controversial about this even if it's in MV? Heck, Menlo Park's much smaller than you & has a ginormous Safeway. It's nice, too, if ginormous is your thing. And if you want Latino ginormous, we have our new supermercado. Ok, it's only ginormous because of all the hot & deli food stuffs. Does a grocery store have to be a NIMBY controversy?

Trying to shop for groceries in your town is a little schizophrenic right now. It's like....

"Ok, we'll hit Piazza's first, then TJ's at T&C, then brave downtown to grab a few things at Whole Paycheck. No, wait, we don't have all day. Ok, we'll go just to TJ's & Pizza's, because then we can grab a Peet's & dog food. By then, we'll be too tired to go to Whole Paycheck, but we'll muster up the last of our energy for CVS, even though most of the clerks couldn't check their way outta a paper bag...Better yet, let's hit TJ's & CVS tonight & a farmer's market tomorrow..."

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm

@Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,

Tell us about your own shopping experience in your town--- we are all ears---

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Sharon, shopping at Mi Pueblo's been pretty good so far. Staff are helpful & friendly & there are enough checkers that lines go pretty fast. I've shopped there for both work & personal items. I wasn't expecting much, to be honest. I've also dealt w/management there for work-related events & they've been great.

There isn't any organic produce or meat, so that's a problem for me. The butcher area is very clean, huge, great employees. When I bought some work items from the butcher, they actually carried the items to the checker for me because I was too dorky to grab a cart & the stuff was much heavier than it looked. The people at the cheese counter have also been really helpful & they have some delish items there. Ditto the taqueria/deli area. I've bought bakery items there for events, but never actually eaten them - they're not my style.

All in all, experiences have been great. There's security there so it's safe. What's also nice is that it's open early & late.

There have been times that I've run in on my way home from work for some items & then gone to TJ's for the rest & those have been pretty efficient shopping trips.

I've noticed the kinks in the restaurant area have mostly been worked out, which is nice. They make a pretty darn good torta, I recommend it if you aren't a vegetarian. If you are, the veggie tamales are pretty good.

Posted by susan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 8:54 am

As usual Palo Alto shoots itself in the foot. Think of all the lost revenue they miss by not listening to the citizens and expanding/improving our grocery shopping options. Our options right now are downright dismal so Mountain View wins again!!

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:01 am

midtown Safeway is NOT up to a reasonable standard so I will continue to shop at Mt View Safeway

Posted by Too Much Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:13 am

Palo Alto is not interested in reasonable sized grocery stores--this is due to a vocal minority who feel that places like JJ&f should not have any real competition. Plus the council and certain citizens have made sure that there would not be a large grocery store in Alma Plaza. Now we will have a repeat with Edgewood Plaza.
But not to worry we have large Safeways in Menlo Park and Mountain View. We also have a large Nob Hill and a Ranch 99 in the same shopping plaza in Mountain View. Plus the large modern Whole Food in Los Altos.
I support shopping anywhere but Palo Alto whenever possible.

Posted by BP Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:14 am

This new Safeway location in Mountain View will be more convenient for me and others in the Barron Park neighborhood. If I'm going to get in my car and drive to the store anyway, I might as well go to a mega-market that has it all at reasonable prices.
Do our Transportation planners ever consider the traffic that is created by not allowing stores to be built in Palo Alto? Does all that traffic created by driving to other cities to shop not count?

Posted by Alma Plaza
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:30 am

The city of Palo Alto was perfectly willing to let Albertson's build a bigger and better supermarket at Alma Plaza. The NIMBYs shut that down. That was a great site with easy access to Alma Street. Don't blame "transportation planners".

Posted by Too Much Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

Alma Plaza--yes, I agree the NIMBYs shut it down by playing "the store is too big, the store is too small" game for years. Problem really was that our city leaders on the council showed no spine whatsoever and did not stand up for the retention of a local shopping center. They were too busy covering their own behinds as they stuck their tail between their legs and let this vocal minority call the shots.

Posted by susan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 11:01 am

Why is it that our high schools are too BIG and our groceries are too SMALL? Something is messed up in this town.

Posted by Great Idea
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 8, 2010 at 11:49 am

Safeway are smart and know how to make money. Place two mega-markets, one in Menlo Park and one in Mountain View right on the border with Palo Alto and attract all their customers as well as the host city's, and give the retail tax dollars to the host city!!

San Antonio Road will be permanently backed up, so we'll have to use Charleston to get to the new Mountain View Safeway.

Meanwhile, we'll all need segways to get around these mega-markets.

Posted by no surprise
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I hate shopping, period. Trying to shop locally in Palo Alto makes it so much worse, because you have to go to 10 different boutique stores to get what you need while trying to minimize the cost. Any one store *might* be bike-able, but 10 stores turns into a Tour de Palo Alto..

Yet once inside one of our *cozy* stores, I find that no matter what I do or where I park my cart, I am always in the way of some cranky shopper who is trying to live the fantasy of minimal impact on the earth. Sigh. I think I'll continue to avoid the greener-than-thou crowd and take my gas powered car to shop elsewhere. Though I think I'll toss my rollerblades in the back seat for getting around the super-store!

Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Sep 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm

This "new" Safeway is just going to replace the existing Safeway a few blocks away. The traffic impact will not be that dramatic. But the selection should be much better. Yayyy!

Posted by local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm

The site where this is going to be built is currently blighted so I think it is a great idea.

Posted by Bike2Shop
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Today we bike to Wal-Mart and Target by taking the Cal Train's San Antonio Station under-path. Shops offer bike racks at front. Our bike trips are very pleasant and quick.

By 2015 we have new reason to bike2shop there.

Posted by Another hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I agree with you Hmmm things are getting better here in EPA. I thought things were going to be bad for us when they took away the Lucky store across the way... then I started going to Mountain View for my shopping needs and found I was missing out on lots of things. So far I think we are doing great.

Posted by Another hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Oh and one more thing... I think some of the people shopping in our town could be coming from Palo Alto. What do you think? lol

Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

About time! Now I have a new Safeway at each end of Palo Alto! Everybody (other cities) are ON the boat except Palo Alto.

Posted by Hmmm - to Another Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Yes, I agree! I try to shop in SM county as much as I can, but the siren call of the Town & Country Trader Joe's is hard to resist, since it's close & the customers aren't as rude as at the Menlo one. I'm on the westside, so it doesn't always make sense for me to cross 101 or El Camino.

Posted by Michael Vilain
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 12:17 am

I'm just on the border of EPA and PA but have been here 20+ years. During that time I've seen a lot of changes in the supermarket "space". Since the demise of the old Co-Op and "The Market" (before it became Mollie Stone's, a Whole Foods wannabe), I've been shopping at my little retail loop of MV's Trader Joe's, The Milk Pail, and Piazza. With the advent of a super Safeway in place of Sears, I see no reason to change that. I _HATE_ Safeway with a passion and will only shop there for stuff I can't get elsewhere (e.g. aluminum holiday pans+scouring pads were my most recent purchases last Thanksgiving). I had to tell the checker "What part of NO don't you understand?" when she asked me for the third time if I wanted a Safeway Club Card. Their milk spoils in a few days, meaning it wasn't transported at the right temperature. TJ's milk lasts to pretty much the day of expiration. I won't patronize the new store anytime soon and I hope construction doesn't mess up access to The Milk Pail or the MV TJ's.

Posted by farmers markets
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 9, 2010 at 12:32 am

We have great farmers markets. I get most of my food there.

Size isn't everything.

Piazza's does such a great job with stocking the shelves and presentation, they have a surprising amount of stuff in an easy to shop space. Plus, the customer service is so good, when I need something, I'm tired, I go to Piazza's. Plus they donate so much to local schools.

Country Sun often has stuff even Whole Foods doesn't have.

Molly Stones stocks a lot of the kind of prepackaged stuff I generally don't personally buy, but it's a surprisingly large space in there.

All of the above stores make good use of their space. I find when I go to really large stores now, it's inconvenient to roam around some huge space for the same stuff.

I'm not sure what the deal is with the huge Safeway at the San Antonio Center. There have been large groceries there before that haven't made it. And now it has to compete with Whole Foods in Los Altos.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2010 at 8:21 am

Here are some of the things a full service supermarket in the cosmopolitan Silicon Valley should have.

A full service, in store bakery, baking bread, pastries, etc. and taking special orders for cakes, etc. MV Safeway is the nearest we have for this.

A butcher that actually cuts meat from the carcass and can cut specialized cuts and provide things like kidneys and liver from various animals by order. JJs used to be like this, but has gone downhill.

A deli which does more than just provide the same sandwich/bread ingredients as all the others. A deli should provide "fine food" and pride itself in unique fresh items and variety from various cultures. Web Link Piazza's is the nearest.

Fish department, Whole Foods in Los Altos, seems to be the best.

Excellent produce, Milk Pail and Piazzas is good.

Excellent cheese, Milk Pail and Piazzas good once again.

Wines, not sure where locally, but I do like Safeway in Redwood City as they can advise.

Variety of packaged goods, cereals (Piazzas), Grains (Whole Foods), imported goods (Piazzas), goods from other parts of the US (?), teas, coffees, oils, flours, etc.

Excellent selection of non-food items, toiletries, cleaning products, paper products, floral, etc.

I am not advocating toys, clothes, auto, stationery, school supplies, etc. but a small selection of these would be great too as we have very few outlets for these in PA.

On top of that, a place to sit and eat a sandwich or drink a coffee before shopping as well as reasonable restroom facilities. Hey, I even visited a supermarket recently which had carts to wash cars while you shop.

Many of our supermarkets do some of this really well. As many have stated, we are tired of having to trek to various locations all over town and surrounding areas to do basic shopping. I know that we have specialized ethnic shops and one place can't possibly cater to all ethnic requirements as the specialized shops, but if some can do a reasonable selection it would be a start.

Posted by Happy Camper
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 9, 2010 at 8:37 am

I love it! Cannot wait for all the out-of-towners to come and shop in Mountain View. Traffic problems will be no problem. And yes, Palo Alto has once again shot itself in the foot. Palo Alto's "not in my backyard" attitude is truly injust for the citizens and communities.

I love Mountain View City Council for not only saying they are innovative and a move-forward City, they are actually doing it! Sure they have their own problems like any other government entity, at least Mountain View is progressively moving forward for betterment of the citizens and community as a whole. We have IT ALL right here. It is a great, diverse, tons of shopping, wonderful weather City to live in.

Posted by carol
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 8:38 am

It is a pity that a high income town like Palo Alto does not have an acceptable market. We own a vacation home in a small town outside of the Bay Area and it has a huge Raleys that meets all of our needs - from groceries to auto parts to beach gear. This town has fewer than 5,000 people!! Go figure.

Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 10:07 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Not everyone in PA makes 6 figure salaries and can afford the gormet food (prices) at MS,WF,PM
Some of us are trying NOT to drive all over town or frequently (I could easily walk to the All American. Remember when affordable Markets were located near housing: Alma plaza, Edgewood, Midtown ? )

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