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As College Terrace Market closes, community asks: What's next?

Original post made on Jan 5, 2018

College Terrace Market's Dec. 30 announcement of its impending closure leaves many unanswered questions about the future prospects for a neighborhood grocery store in College Terrace Centre in Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 5, 2018, 6:54 AM

Comments (81)

15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2018 at 9:02 am

The fact is that Palo Alto shoppers like to use Costco, the 2 large Safeways on our borders and yes online shopping, for the majority of our grocery needs. Niche stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes are popular with many and Piazzas seem to do extremely well. But the absence of a large full service store is problematic for many of us.

Yes we do like to have a neighborhood store for quick stop grocery shopping on an occasional or even frequent basis, but the majority of us want to do our major grocery shopping elsewhere. I personally think it is time we rethought our small grocery store mentality and aimed to get Midtown Safeway enlarged with parking below or on the roof to help the expansion.

Edgewood Market would have been an ideal place for a large Safeway. It would have attracted people from the area, people from all over Palo Alto and it would also have attracted people for East Palo Alto whose only grocery store is a Mexican Market (which is probably a good place to have one and I have been there and it is a good but limited selection store). Being so close to the highway would have been good for getting regular deliveries. It could have had an in store bakery, deli, hot food counter, cold food counter, Starbucks, in fact all that is in the Menlo and San Antonio stores. It would also have been an anchor or draw for other businesses that may have located next door, pizza places or hair salon perhaps.

However, that was never an option for reasons I am not aware of. It is the greater community that has missed out as well as all the tax dollars the taxable goods would have brought in. I hope the new store does well, but it is a small neighborhood store and they are the ones who have to make it work.

Presumably, the same will have to be said for any new store that comes to College Terrace.


26 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2018 at 10:34 am

@Resident,

There have been overtures from grocers to build large stores. These attempts were strongly rebuffed by the community, and the City did not move forward.

One example is the old Albertsons (formerly Lucky's). Albertson's wanted to redevelop the entire center with a large grocery. This was strongly opposed by the neighborhood, which nevertheless wanted a small store.

The Alma Plaza that we now have is basically a response to the community. Indeed, the Miki's store that failed after a few months was an implementation to the stated desires of the community. Fortunately, the developer has "counter-programmed" with a discount store, which never would have been approved by the community.

Palo Alto has a strong tendency to think that we are "different" than the rest of the world and that the things we want are out of the ordinary. While this is probably a bit true in some areas, it is largely false. The grocery industry has observed that people want to actually shop in large stores, and I think that this mostly applies here as well.

I hope that the CT develoopers are able to get some help in thinking through what will really work in this space. I am not sure anything does.

We are in for a tough time on this because the developer just wants to be relieved of this requirement. He has his huge building, thanks to the community that asked for basically what they got, and the City Council that backed them out without vetting the concept.


58 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 10:46 am

Shame on this statement in the article re Mayor Scharff- "If the developers had added more market signage, done a lot of advertising and gone to the council and community for help and still failed, he might be inclined to agree. But that wasn't the case, he said."

1) The PC and Palo Alto Sign code allow for more signage than what the grocer installed. How is it the developer's responsibility to add signage, advertise and market a business they don't own or manage? 2) Is the statement implying the developer or building owner have gone to the council and community for help? It's very clear the community did not support the grocer by shopping at the market.

Does this quote, "I feel like they paid no attention to the grocery store," he said." mean that the mayor has been in contact with the developer and building owner?

The statement about Council Adrian Fine questioning the wisdom of making markets a requirement or zoning ordinances is spot on! Brick and mortar retail is struggling and always changing/evolving with modern time. Its understandable for zone to require a grocer but it's crazy to believe that the City mandated a building owner be responsible for managing a business to stay in continuous business, other than their own. If that's the case, Palo Altoans live in a dictator run City. The market was given very cheap rent and still failed. The City approved the terms of the grocer's lease. Should the building owner be penalized?

Did Hilary Gitelman actually speak with Palo Alto Online?










18 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 10:47 am

Annette is a registered user.

Stay tuned for some sophisticated whining from the owner/developer as they try to assert that they have done all they can to meet the terms of the agreement. They have not, but that's not likely to deter them from asserting otherwise. It will be interesting to see if the City bothers with enforcement. The City should, but that's not the City's strong suit. One could argue that nodding to developers is what this city does best.

If an alternative use for the space is going to be allowed, how about this: require that the space be converted to affordable housing at the owner/developer's sole expense and with ZERO concessions from the City? This development has exceeded all reasonable tolerance for excessiveness.




4 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 10:58 am

Can someone explain why if the Edgewood developer (Sand Hill Property) is able to wriggle their way out of City-imposed fines for not having a grocery store there, then why wouldn't the College Terrace developer do the same via similar court action?

Is the language in the 2 contracts different? And if so, why were they written differently?


18 people like this
Posted by Georeigi
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 10:59 am

The develop will ignore as much as possible and laugh about it, getting off with minimal penalty, if any. Pretty obvious this was the plan all along. Otherwise, why not charge the developer's son with running the market, as proposed way back. If he's so eager to run a grocery, let him have at it. Meanwhile I am holding my nose but not my breath. Another failure of PA government--it's amazing anything happens here.


16 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:43 am

@ BP Dad: Yes, the language is different --- and unfortunately the city screwed up the Edgewood contract.

BTW - no one from the city has stepped up to take responsibility for the Edgewood mess.


15 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:44 am

@Barron Park Dad,

Good question!

The language is different.

The City Council has the annoying and dangerous habit of writing what are essentially legal contracts late at night during City Council meetings.

1. The EW (Edgewood) language is different and possibly ambiguous, if you didn't know anything about the history or the public statements of the developer. The judge ruled that it was sufficient to have an empty building that might someday be "used" as a grocery store but the developer did not have to provide an actual "operating" store. We can hope that the city will appeal this ruling, but the judge had some logic. The EW developer hired a smart lawyer to find a loophole, and he did his job. Bad karma for the developer however, whose integrity is shot.

2. In the CT case, the language is much better. City Councilperson Larry Klein wrote it late at night, and did a good job. Thanks Larry! In fact, the EW judge compared the EW wording to the CT wording in a way that suggests that the CT wording would hold up. The CT developer may nevertheless take the matter to court, perhaps hiring the EW lawyer to help him.

One thing to not get into is whether or not a grocery is viable. The developer will be arguing that it is not viable, and he will be right, as far as he goes. Of course, he should have thought about this before he made the commitments that he made.

But he is on the hook to provide a grocery that the city approves as long as the project exists and whether or not it is profitable.

Final comment: Palo Alto apparently has more lawyers per capita than any other city in the US, including NYC and DC. IP is their main business. One would think, however, that our city could do a better job of vetting projects, ordinances, and contracts.


32 people like this
Posted by C-
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:48 am

Their deli items and cake were top notch. I truly am sad to see them go, as I was sad to see JJ&F go, but let's be honest...

The free market dictates what stays and what goes. It was ridiculous to have the city counsel try and will a grocery store into existence. The costs to stay in business in this town don't bear it out. The same with the restaurant on the corner of El Camino and College. I wont bother to name which one, take your pick of at least 4-5 different ones that have failed there the last 10 or so years.

Constant meddling & over regulating. I just hope the owners of CTM will be ok, and I'm sorry they had to be the ones who suffered financially for this City's dumb experiments in utopian planning.


20 people like this
Posted by Claire
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:51 am

@Annette - stick to baking pies

@Georeigi - The current grocer had operating experience with their staff and the store still failed. Its dumb to say that charging the developers son with zero experience would equate to a successful grocer. As Mary said, "it's crazy to believe that the City mandated a building owner be responsible for managing a business to stay in continuous business, other than their own."


7 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:59 am

Marie is a registered user.

@ Barron Park Dad Of course the language is different. The city does learn from its mistakes, and it learned from the Edgewood fiasco. Whether they learned well enough, we will see.

Alma Plaza was zoned for a 30,000 sq. ft. grocery store, which is not what I consider small. Lucky/Albertson wanted 40,000 which would have also eliminated all the wonderful small stores that existed at that time. When Lucky's did not prevail, they sold the property with a proviso that another large grocery store could not be built so as not to compete with their store in Mountain View .. which went belly up anyway couple years later. The owners evicted everyone, scraped the property and left it vacant and an eyesore for over 10 years until they finally found a council that would go along with their proposed development. There was supposed to be a small market and a room available for community events. I've never heard of anyone being able to use that room. I have no idea what it is used for.

The original market was undercapitalized and had terrible signage. It was very sad that it failed but grocery businesses, as Lucky learned, are tricky to get right. Grocery Outlet has been there for some years now very successfully. They also got a big sign which I expect helped. IMHO, being a chain with lots more capital and experience also helped.

The narrow streets in the development are a problem for both fire trucks and garbage trucks. This and other new developments with narrow streets led to a proposed initiative to require streets to be at least 30 feet wide. The council adopted this zoning amendment to avoid the initiative, which was smart on their part. Then they tried to charge the residents extra for garbage pickup when a newly negotiated contract with Greenwaste called for higher rates when they needed to use a smaller truck on narrow streets. The residents quite properly objected that the city approved the streets so why should they have to pay extra. The city council, IMHO, rejected the proposal from the Utility Dept.

The Fresh Market at Edgewood was always profitable. It was closed because the chain decided to close all of its west coast stores as many weren't profitable (best guess). It took a long time to re-lease because the chain continued to pay on their lease and hoped to sublease it. The only reason I can see that they would do that is that a) Sand Hill wouldn't release it and/or b) both thought they could release it at a higher rent if they waited long enough. Many grocery stores were interested. My guess is that they were not interested in paying a higher rent. IMHO, Sand Hill held out because they thought they could convince the city the location was not viable and use it for other much higher paying commercial uses. For once, the city held firm and another grocery store has opened. I assume it is profitable, as was Fresh Market, since it is still in business. I also expect a higher court to side with the city and require Sand Hill to pay the fines, if the city appeals (if Sand Hill is not successful in using its influence to get the city to not appeal). Several judges approved the fine. Only one has denied them.

JJ&F was successful in that location on El Camino for 65 years, with the exact same competition as exists today. They were struggling, as most neighborhood businesses in CA Avenue have struggled, mostly because of high rent increases. I'm sure there is someone who can run a profitable grocery business there as long as the rent is low enough and the operator is experienced - someone such as Grocery Outlet. Country Sun and Mollie Stones are doing fine. I expect given the location, including a deli with lots of lunch options, would work if the prices were right. The Cheese House, in T&C, also in a small space, which is a combination of specialty grocery items, deli and fantastic sandwiches works well. The developer should also have to provide an offstreet place for refuse so parking is not eliminated.

I totally agree that the only alternative use the city should consider should be low income housing. In fact, no additional commercial development that requires any rezoning should be considered unless it includes enough housing for the additional employees ( so it does not worsen the current abysmal worker/housing imbalance) and enough parking that it does not increase the existing parking deficit. This is unlikely with the current council.

Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


11 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:59 am

@C-

"Constant meddling & over regulating. I just hope the owners of CTM will be ok, and I'm sorry they had to be the ones who suffered financially for this City's dumb experiments in utopian planning."

This is a great injustice to the history.

The CT developer asked for the deal. He wanted to override zoning so that he could build a huge building. He devised the "save JJ&F" campaign and hired PR people to go into the community and gather support.

He appeared at the City Council meeting and said, "Only I can save JJ&F." He made numerous promises.

I agree that the City failed to vet this project and should not have approved it. I objected to it at the time, with a large crowd gathered to support JJ&F and a grocery store. But the City didn't come up with this idea or try to get it through, the developer did.

The developer should now be held to his own commitments.




16 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

This developer gets a big break, gets a grocery story that fails, and then gets to keep the big development begins to seem to me like the old shell game with one pea under three shells. Sleight of hand causes the unsuspecting dupe to lose the money he bets.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter K Mueller
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Since all these developments began 2 or 3 yrs ago we accumukared a plethora of food shops. May be we don’t need any more beyond the
Sat & Sun & one wkd mkt downtown, CA Ave, VA.; 3 Safeways incl MENLO Park, 3 TJs including MP; 2 Whole Foods; 1 Sprouts, 1 Outlet; 1 Molly Stones; 2 Draegers (LOS Altos & MP; CA Ave health foods store; new market at Edgewood; Milk Pail; & COSTCO.
And whatever else missing from this list.


21 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

On the other thread on this topic several have expressed an interest in an Asian grocery, something Palo Alto lacks. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.


25 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 1:30 pm

@C-

Well said!! "The free market dictates what stays and what goes"


16 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 2:09 pm

I like Jerry Underdal's idea of an Asian grocery for this location. That is truly unique to Palo Alto and given the Asian population, it could work. Ranch 99 in Mountain View is the next closest.


20 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2018 at 2:27 pm

We agree that an Asian market would be great for this location. Something like Ranch 99 or Nijiya. Safeway and Costco don't have these kinds of foods. Nijiya is very popular and doesn't need much space and their closest current locations are San Mateo and Sunnyvale.


6 people like this
Posted by Newell Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2018 at 2:51 pm

All these people blaming Sand Hill for the city's contract mistake LOL

Are you sure that it's SH that is behind the Edgewood conspiracy and not the Deep State or the Flat Earth society?

you're all talking like SH has the city and the courts in their pocket, yet they are the ones who have been all over headlines. If you nuts were right, we would not know about any of this.

just my 2 cents.


8 people like this
Posted by You got what you deserved
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 5, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Marie- you claim that jj&f existed for 65 years with the same competetion as today. What you forget is that the city made sure that only small grocery stores would be info the city( as demanded by CT) so that there would be no real competetion( free Margery is a term our council dies not understand). Toy also forget that there were no normal sized Safeway in MP and MV , trader Joe and no while foods info Los Altos. So jj&f was kept in business thanks to our city council. Holman et al think that we are still in the 20th century, were mom and pop stores thrive and there is no internet shopping. Managing tiny, overpriced grocery Israel not the way to go.


9 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2018 at 3:07 pm

To be successful, supermarkets/grocery stores need a much larger footprint in a low profit margin business to be successful. This spot is doomed to failure for any grocer foolish enough to give it a go. Asian markets like 99 Ranch wouldn't even think about it, despite the large Chinese population in Palo Alto. Nijiya operates in a smaller footprint but with most likely much lower rent and a larger Japanese population in Mountain View.

And Peter Mueller is correct. We have more than enough places to buy groceries in Palo Alto. One more is overkill.

For those in College Terrace whining about the closure, just answer one simple question. How many of you bought all or the majority of your groceries there since they opened ? Stopping by for a carton of milk, loaf of bread or some bakery goods isn't enough to sustain a business. Give it up already.


28 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Already there is too much jabber from the armchair quarterbacks suggesting a specialty grocery store, asian grocery store or other ethnic grocery store. These are all great "ideas", that's all. It reminds me of this so called community "wanting" (read, demanding) a local grocer, College Terrace Market.

Will the community support and make successful a specialty grocery store, asian grocery store or other ethnic grocery store f the building owner and developer bring a grocer like this to College Terrace Centre? No!

Will our beloved Palo Altoan community blame the City, building owner and developer if a specialty grocery store, asian grocery store or other ethnic grocery store fails? Yes!




12 people like this
Posted by Duveneck resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2018 at 3:18 pm

A huge shout-out to the Market at Edgewood. The employees are friendly and, for the most part, knowledgeable. Their produce is top-notch & fresh with lots of variety. The produce prices are below or at market prices. Some of the prices for dairy and packaged goods are on the high side. Their deli section is good and not overly pricey. I go there for their produce at least 1x/week. When I asked a checker if there was enough traffic to cover their costs, she said "Oh, YES!" Glad they are here.


6 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 3:38 pm

CT Market is a great location for us in CT.

We ran out of time on many things.

Manager Ron Jeannie Matthew Bob and few friendly staff will be dearly missed.

Best wishes


28 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 5, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Draeger's, Trader Joe's and Safeway all do very well in Menlo Park.

Why? Because the MP City Council has not tried to replace the free market with central planning.


6 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2018 at 4:46 pm

@ Sea Reddy.....if it was such a great location for those of you in CT, why didn't all of you in CT shop there?


6 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Marie is a registered user.

@You got what you deserved

Are you aware that Mollie Stones Country Sun (CA Ave.), the Village Cheese House and Trader Joe's (T&C), Whole Foods (Downtown), Piazzas (Charleston Center and my favorite), Grocery Outlet (Alma Village) 7/11 and Safeway (Midtown) are all thriving small to medium grocery stores in Palo Alto for many years? And I may be missing some. Several of the pharmacies (CVS Walgreen's) have quite a lot of grocery items. I have high hopes the market at Edgewood Plaza will be as successful as its predecessor.

You do not need to be a huge store to survive in PA.


11 people like this
Posted by You got what you deserved
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Marie- grocery outlet replaced another miki store that failed quickly. You would have thought that palo alto would learn a lesson and stop trying to control the market. Midtown Safeway is dark and dirty and usually out of staples early. Piazzas used to claim that 20k square feet Is more than enough- when they didn't want free market completion at aalma plaza. Now they are well over that size. But I bet most people would love a large Safeway like the ones on oract borders. Of course Safeway is not stupid, why bother dealing witj anti- free market palo alto. Just build a full service store 10 feet over the border. And that is the key words- full service, all the stores you mention ate small, undersized stores, that do not provide value ( except grocery outlet)


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 5, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Look at the Willows Market in Menlo Park. Probably no more square footage than the CT site but it is very popular.

Why - because it is customer driven rather than City Council driven.


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 7:28 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Mary

"Already there is too much jabber from the armchair quarterbacks suggesting a specialty grocery store, asian grocery store or other ethnic grocery store."

I'm perplexed by your certainty. Do you think that an Asian market can't meet the bulk of CT residents' grocery store needs while also placing items on its shelves and in its coolers that are sought by Asian customers? I think they could, and this may be the time to put to the test whether an Asian market can do well in P.A.

JJ&F nostalgia has run its course. Why not try something new that could meet the desires of two groups, College Terrace residents who want a local grocery and residents in Palo Alto looking for a place to buy their favorite Asian foods while they catch up on news relevant to the Asian/Asian-American community?

I'd like to hear from businessmen with Asian grocery store experience on the Peninsula before dismissing the idea out of hand. Demographics are changing, and so are market opportunities. If Asian grocers say it can't work, end of story. Your pronouncement that it can't still leaves a question in my mind.


7 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2018 at 7:29 pm

@Peter Carpenter: .... And they have a great selection of beers! (Willow Market)


6 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 7:30 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Peter, I agree with you about the Willows market. It is really nice and the owners know what the local shopper wants.
Keep in mind that it is very identifiable as a market on the outside unlike the College Terrace Market. Plus you can park in front. I do not understand why the red stripping was added in front of the College Terrace Market preventing any parking.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton

>> Look at the Willows Market in Menlo Park. Probably no more square footage >> than the CT site but it is very popular.

>> Why - because it is customer driven rather than City Council driven.

I'm not letting the council off the hook, but, the particularly awkward access wasn't CC driven, it was developer driven. And, the design was customer-driven-- just not grocery store customers.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 5, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"And, the design was customer-driven-- just not grocery store customers."

Clearly the designers listened to the wrong "customers". The results speak for themselves.


13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 9:26 pm

I agree with Resident. I hardly shop at these small neighborhood stores. I go to mainly Costco and Wholefood, sometimes Safeway and Trader Joe. I would only go to my neighborhood store if I need just one or two items, out of convenience and occurs only occasionally. As a result, small neighborhood stores are not getting much revenue from me, and I imagine from most Palo Alto residents as well.


5 people like this
Posted by Toiya
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2018 at 9:51 am

From the minute this horrendous building went up, I just knew it wasn't going to do well. I LOVE the idea of a neighborhood market, however the location of the market, I believe, was the beginning of the end for them. Putting First Republic's main doors at the entrance to our neighborhood made no sense. I can't figure out why they didn't put the market right on College, just like JJ&F. It's easier to get to and a more friendlier approach. Accessing the market on El Camino makes it out of sight and out of mind. The second is the lack of marketing to draw in the customer. If that was up to the developer to do, then they failed miserably. It's too bad, because it was a really nice market that's suffered from a bad location.


11 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2018 at 11:41 am

This City Council is completely useless. Let's just be honest. We love the idea of keeping the Safeways and stores small to keep that small town feeling. We all love the idea of shopping local. Practically speaking let's stop by hypocritical. A lot of us shop at Costco and at the larger Safeways in Mountains View and Menlo Park. Why? Because we don't like making multiple trips just to get our grocery shopping done. These small stores only get the business when we are short one or two ingredients or when we are in a rush.

We need to open our eyes from this liberal feel good view and evaluate what the residents need practically and realistically. Not what makes the city "look good."

Between these grocery debacles, a school district that's mismanaged, and the city using hard earned money to buy a trailor park we need to seriously evaluate what is practical. This City Council is useless.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown

>> This City Council is completely useless. Let's just be honest. We love the idea of keeping the Safeways and stores small to keep that small town feeling. We all love the idea of shopping local. Practically speaking let's stop by hypocritical. A lot of us shop at Costco and at the larger Safeways in Mountains View and Menlo Park. Why? Because we don't like making multiple trips just to get our grocery shopping done. These small stores only get the business when we are short one or two ingredients or when we are in a rush.

I seldom shop in Safeway. What is with the Safeway fan club I keep seeing postings from here? Anyway, the sites in question in Town Square don't have nearly enough room for the giant version of Safeway that is being talked about. If I did want to shop in a Giant Safeway, I could drive for 10 minutes to get to one. There -is- a Safeway in Midtown, and, once in a while, I shop there. It seems just as Safeway-ish as any other Safeway to me. And when was Safeway ever one of the priorities, like affordable housing?

>> We need to open our eyes from this liberal feel good view and evaluate what the residents need practically and realistically. Not what makes the city "look good."

Looking good is good for property values, haven't you noticed? Trees, no -more- giant malls (we already have Stanford Shopping Center). Stanford could have put a Safeway in at some point in the past if they wanted it. I wonder why they didn't? (No, I don't.) OBTW, I'm a liberal, FWIW.

The real issue here is that the PC designation is just not working. The city should enact a moratorium on all non-residential new construction until the lawyers can get a grip on what is going wrong. In the meantime, I think we need to add an architectural ordinance. All buildings must be Arts and Crafts or Art Deco. No -Postmodern- buildings. I haven't seen a postmodern building yet that wasn't ugly. Or worse than ugly. I hate to dictate, but, I guess we have to wait for the current crop of architects to retire, and maybe the next generation can bring in some new style.


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

It seems to me that most Town Square posters represent a section of the market that is already well served and isn't about to significantly support boutique grocery stores. But there may be other potential markets that aren't well served by existing choices. Google "Mexican grocery store near me" and you find the that niche is pretty well served by a number of stores in neighboring towns. "Eastern European" brings up a small El Camino store in the Ventura neighborhood, a larger store on San Antonio Road and the Milk Pail. "Asian grocery stores near me" comes up empty for Palo Alto.

At a time when the fastest growing segment of Palo Alto's population, already around 35% and growing, is Asian, and many non-Asian Palo Altans are also in the market for Asian foods doesn't it make sense to explore the possibility of establishing a stable, neighborhood based but region serving Asian grocery close to California Avenue? If, after all the drama about keeping a store in College Terrace, the choice is to try this or give up and put in a restaurant I don't understand why there wouldn't be support for the researching an Asian market option.


9 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2018 at 8:47 pm

@ Peter Carpenter "Clearly the designers listened to the wrong "customers".

This project, including the grocery store space, was developer driven from the beginning. The property owners and their developer were determined to get the property up zoned, from 13,000 square foot of office space to 40,000 square foot of first class office space. To do so they hit upon the idea of offering to "save JJ&F" as their tool to get the city to approve an up zoning.

Using JJ&F as leverage, the developer vigorously pursued this upzoning for a number of years, despite being turned down by the Planning and Transport Commission on various occasions. Finally the developer appealed to the city council. Prior to the council meeting, the developer funded an extensive public relations campaign to convince the
public only he could "save JJ&F" which culminated in a rally to bus in supporters and speakers to fill the council chambers. As John Garcia, one of the owners of JJ&F, told me afterwards, if only a quarter of the people who turned out shopped at JJ&F they wouldn't be going out of business! One local resident who was involved in the "save JJ&F" campaign even told me he simply "liked" the idea of having a grocery store, even though he seldom shopped there.

Unfortunately, a developer friendly council were willing to look past the lack of wisdom in accepting an offer to permanently guarantee space set aside for a commercial entity. However, because of the city's poor track record enforcing so called "public benefits" the wording in the contract with the city may make it more difficult for the property owners to slide out of than the wording in the Sand Hill Edgewood contract. A cynic might observe that those council members who voted in favor would be long gone if this agreement went south.


15 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2018 at 8:54 pm

@ Toiya "I can't figure out why they didn't put the market right on College, just like JJ&F. It's easier to get to and a more friendlier approach."

Another bait and switch. For a long time the plan which people were familiar with, on display in JJ&F, showed the market in it's same position with a prominent entrance on the corner of El Camino and College.


15 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 6, 2018 at 9:35 pm

"Why - because it is customer driven rather than City Council driven."

Gee, what a difference living in a cocoon community like Atherton can make. One forgets all about how the real world out there works.

The simple fact is that the developer's campaign offered a grocery store in exchange for the city council allowing a grossly oversized building, the developer signed a contract with the city to provide said store in perpetuity, the developer built aforesaid grossly oversized building, and now the developer must fulfill the developer's end of that contract. It's called business. Period. Full stop.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2018 at 9:37 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Strange that no one wants to weigh in on the Asian market option. I went into the Market the second day it opened and saw there was no reason to return. Seems like lots of others did too. I walked around it yesterday with an eye to the possibilities. I think the market space itself is adequate for a niche store, but I'm no grocer. It took a minute to figure out that the two levels of parking below ground are meant for the market, not the apartments. Both levels were empty, no surprise on a Sunday, but I'll take another look today. It's obnoxious that First Republic plastered its name all over the building, but if the one sign directly above the market space were replaced by a sign for the market that would be sufficient for a market that met a consumer need in a way that assured new customers would come looking for it on El Camino near California Avenue.

City Council went through all sorts of contortions to squeeze the developers into putting a grocery store in the bizarre-looking structure they ended up building. Hold the developer to the requirement that a grocery go in there, but broaden the search and see if an Asian market could succeed there. There's a lot of new housing coming in the California Avenue area. Current real estate trends suggest that a significant share of new residents and workers will have Asian background or connections. Plan for the future, not the present.


21 people like this
Posted by Raku Too
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 10:24 am

Let's be clear here: the residents and the CC may be thinking wishfully about the viability of a local market in that location. But those were the terms of the deal that the developer accepted---he understood the potential costs and the likelihood he would have to subsidize this market in perpetuity. (And by the way the initial rent subsidy is a pittance compared to the long-term fine for violating the agreement.) Still, the developer entered the deal, freely and knowingly. The developer should be held to account!!! I do wonder if part of the developer's calculation was the CC would back down and let him off the hook for the fine. And, if the CC does that, then that is our fault, the citizens who elect and reelect these weak-kneed representatives. I say make the develop pay---he took the risk.


13 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 11:25 am

Annette is a registered user.

@Curmudgeon and @Margaret heath - thank you for correctly recounting the genesis of College Terrace Centre.

@Raku Too - Bingo! I think you have correctly identified the developer's calculation. Given this City's failure to enforce the public benefit aspect of PC up-zoning, why not roll the dice, make a pie crust promise, convert the grocery space to a more profitable use and laugh all the way to the bank? The City should say NO NO NO to that and require that the developer abide by the terms of the agreement.

Or demand that the excess square footage the zone change allowed be demolished. Now THAT would send a message!


7 people like this
Posted by Sean
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 11:53 am

Don't forget that a big part of the CC approval of the PC upgrade was the subsidized housing on that site. I shopped at the new market about 30-40 times in its short life. Initially I found it to be adequate (as was parking down below, with the convenient elevator directly into the market)...and convenient. Then it began to degrade in terms of products and service (when Miki left, I think)...although I still liked the people who worked there. An Asian market?...I would rarely shop there, although on occasion I would...I don't think that is the answer.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Sean,

I appreciate your comment. For this to work, the store managers would have to do everything possible to get neighborhood patronage from non-Asian customers like you and me.

The New Mozart music school in the adjacent space would likely bring in parent drivers on a weekly schedule.With the patio space in front to hang out while waiting for their student and food/household items that appeal to a pan-Asian (East, South and Southeast) clientele inside, the music lesson could be a great opportunity to buy what they need and visit with friends.

The Asian focus doesn’t mean the market would not carry most items needed for the kitchen regardless of preferred cuisine. It probably would mean different choices in the deli section. Maybe the store could make regular customers of neighborhood shoppers for delicious Asian alternatives to chicken salad and pastrami sandwiches.

I just checked the parking. The bottom level was pretty well filled, but the upper level was essentially empty, so I figure it’s intended for market shoppers.

An aside: I walked Cal Ave looking for Asian restaurants and spotted very few. Szechuan Cafe is being replaced by a non-Asian establishment. The Pieology site at the corner of ECR and Cambridge is empty (again). Opportunity knocks in a dynamically changing part of town.


6 people like this
Posted by Sean
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm

College Terrace is part of old Mayfield, historically. There was a strong Asian (Chinese) influence back in the day (when Mrs. Stanford got all the opium dens shut down, and annexed Mayfield into Palo Alto). There have been quite a few Asian restaurants in this area ever since, but it is no longer the hip thing to do (comes and goes, even with the Asians). BTW SW Asians (Indians) have a different taste than the Chinese Asians, so a market aimed at generic 'Asians' won't satisfy all...and there are also Indians moving into CT (and PA generally), not just Chinese. Also, all these demographic changes can change pretty quickly. So no, I don't think it makes sense to specialize into an Asian market.


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Sean,

Good point about the distincton between Chinese and Indian consumers. That’s why I said Asian without specifying one or the other. The consultants would have to decide whether generic Asian, South Asian, or East Asian would be the best fit there.

There’s such a paucity of Asian grocery choices in PA that it might be possible to do a “good-enough” job to satisfy both and make a steady profit.


8 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2018 at 2:05 pm

There seems to be an underlying assumption by multiple posters that JJ&F would still be here if it weren't for redevelopment. A lot has changed in the last 4 years. We don't know if any neighborhood grocery store would have survived in that location.

The Asian market discussion is kind of funny. The more successful ones, like 99 Ranch and Marina, are almost as large (if not as large) as a Safeway.

Neighborhood markets work if there is enough density around them. If someone in, say, Community Center has to drive to it, what's the incremental time to just go to a large market with more inventory? It's like our constant bleating about the lack of mass transit. We don't have the density for neighborhood markets or mass transit, and with the residentialist mindset of pretending we're a suburb, we won't.

Let's stop pretending that neighborhood markets will work. There are not enough residents in College Terrace (and Barron Park) to support a market here. Let's stop with the fantasy.


3 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Me2 - good point. IF the developer had made good on the original phasing and $ support for JJ&F that was floated out to the neighborhood at an early meeting at the old bank, MAYBE JJ&F would have survived. Whether it would thrive given all the commercial changes is something we will never know. I tend to doubt it. This is exactly why many of us were skeptical about the way the developer was using affection for JJ&F and the Garcias to grab the brass ring. What a charade. The City eagerly helped him win the prize and now the neighborhood has an over-sized development, several grocers and many employees have been hurt, and there's again the spectre of an un-fulfilled community benefit. All, arguably, in the name of greed. Brilliant.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 8, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Everybody keeps talking about "more housing". Let's go back to 2014 and see what people thought they were getting:

***************************************************

The new store will be called College Terrace Market.

College Terrace Centre includes 40,000 square feet of office space, 13,000 square feet of retail and eight below-market-rate housing units. About 8,000 square feet of retail is reserved for a market. Construction is contingent upon securing a market comparable to JJ&F, which was part of the 2009 approval of the site's planned community (PC) zone. The agreement guaranteed the store would be a "public benefit" in exchange for denser development.

***************************************************

Web Link

Even considering the 8000 square feet as "market", who thinks that 8 BMR housing units offsets 40,000 square feet of new office space?

Palo Alto does not need more office space.


6 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 4:21 pm

College Terrace Market failed for several reasons. 1. Poor location with little visibility by natural traffic circulation. 2. Insufficient signage, which ties into 1 above. 3. High prices. An example is their milk price. They only stocked organic milk at a cost of $10 a gallon while Molly Stone’s sells high quality Clover for $5.79. Lastly and most importantly 4., they had a very poor selection of items. I could only find about 10% of what I was looking for at CTM which required me to still go to Molly Stone’s. Poor fruit selection. Poor bread selection. Poor yogurt selection…. They also wasted space on a coffee bar with Starbucks 200 feet away. Overall, I blame the store management. JJ&F had far greater selection in a similar floor space.

And let me make a comment to those wanting huge markets in Palo Alto. Larger markets do not offer more variety, they provide more of the same. Look at the shelves in the Safeway in Menlo Park or Mountain View and you will see the shelves stocked with the same item spread over several feet of shelf instead of 1 foot at Molly Stone’s or Piazza’s. I challenge anyone to find something in the jumbo stores that is not in Piazza’s, the area’s best market.


5 people like this
Posted by Midlander
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Midlander is a registered user.

@Robert Smith

> There have been overtures from grocers to build large stores.
> These attempts were strongly rebuffed by the community

Unfortunately I'm not sure that "the community" cited here actually represented more than a small, vocal minority.

There are often noisy lobbying groups for this, that, or the other. People who have busy lives, either with work or families, don't necessarily have time to participate. And existing vested interests are (quite naturally) often noisy in opposing changes that would hurt their businesses.

I live near Alma Plaza and I was considerably vexed at the forces that opposed the creation of a large supermarket there. Yes, that might have hurt existing grocers, but I believe it would have been welcomed by many people, and as far as I could tell the noisy "community" activists weren't actually representing most of the community.

Sorry if this sounds grumpy, but I do find it rather silly to have to travel to Menlo Park or Mountain View to get a full service supermarket!


2 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 4:40 pm

@Midlander

Please tell me what you cannot find at Piazza's that the Safeway on San Antonio has, aside from prescription drugs?


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Piazzas is a good store with a good selection, but it is not full service.

The things I know from experience that Piazzas does not have are many, but these are what come to mind.
Bread baked on the premises, with rolls, bagels, etc.
Large sized unscented laundry detergent for front loaders.
Full range of dried fruits, raisins, golden raisins, currants, dates, etc.
Full range of over the counter cold medications.
Large sizes of toilet paper.
Single serving microwave soups.

Just because a large Safeway has more shelf space per item that doesn't mean it is a disadvantage. Midtown Safeway runs out of many items by dinner time, breads, milks, produce, dairy, etc. and this is because they don't have enough shelf space to stock what their customers expect to be available each day at dinner time.

My family enjoys grocery shopping at Piazzas, but it doesn't replace a full service Safeway. There are many specialty items that Piazzas sells but Safeway does not, more's the pity for one stop shopping.


10 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2018 at 4:59 pm

@Midlander,

You are probably right that there was another side in the community but my recollection is all we heard from is the group that wanted a small, upscale store and not a large Albertsons, which is what was being proposed by Albertsons. [No one said they wanted an "upscale" store but the descriptions all pointed in that direction.] The small store group won the public opinion battle, and Albertsons pulled out.

I remember going to a city council meeting and stating my opinion. Several people had said they "wanted to be able to walk to the store to buy a loaf of bread. My comment was that, yes, people would buy a loaf of bread, but when they wanted a $200 grocery order, they would drive to Mountain View or Menlo Park.

People are very romantic and unrealistic about some of these things.


4 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2018 at 5:41 pm

@Resident,

Thank you for your list. I have only very rarely found Piazza's or Molly Stone's out of something I wanted; I don't shop regularly shop at Midtown Safeway. I am sure I can find things at Piazza's or Molly's that San Antonio Safeway does not stock. I don't need a one-stop store that has everything I might possibly need. I want a store that has a good selection of high quality everyday items. I know Molly Stone's has in-house baked bread, dried fruit, large packages of toilet paper, and a large soup selection. Molly's and Piazza's produce is also much better than Safeway's.


17 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

When Alma Plaza was being developed, I thought that it was a terrible idea. After Miki's opened, I stopped by several times. It was a nice little grocery store -- just not for me. It was overpriced for our taste and it didn't contain staple items that we would buy on a regular basis.

When Grocery Outlet moved in, I wasn't sure how well it would do. Many people blamed Miki's failure on "location, location, location" (as well as the odd layout of the property). However, Grocery Outlet succeeded. We now visit the store two or three times a week (and often more).

Grocery Outlet is busy because it has something that Palo Alto residents want: Good prices on staple items. While the business model of Grocery Outlet means that they won't stock the same items each week, they will always have staple items like milk, eggs, bread, sandwich meat, cereal, produce, etc. The best part of the store is that they often have premium brands at "cheaper than Safeway" prices.

The problem with the College Terrace Market is that the only thing worth going for were bakery items and sandwiches. Many of the other grocery items were a bit pricey. In addition, some of the "normal" items that families need weren't available in a store with limited shelf space. So, how often would a Palo Alto resident visit the store?

We visited the Fresh Market at the Edgewood shopping center about once or twice a month. Why? Although they were pricey, they still had a few items that we couldn't find anywhere else (locally). In essence, we visited the Fresh Market as often as we visited the old "Edgewood Eats" food trucks.

I don't know what would succeed at College Terrace. I don't think that a niche grocery store with higher-than-Safeway prices will ever succeed there. Perhaps it is just a bad location because of the extremely odd and confusing layout of the building complex. However, I'd love to be surprised by something. I know that we were surprised by Grocery Outlet Bargain Market at Alma Plaza. I hope that it stays open for a very long time.


5 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm

"I don't know what would succeed at College Terrace. I don't think that a niche grocery store with higher-than-Safeway prices will ever succeed there."

One-off small-to-medum sized grocery stores absolutely will not work. That was the failure of Miki's and of CT Market. They don't have enough volume to negotiate good pricing with vendors and won't have the size to offer the variety of products. The reason why Edgewood and Alma Plaza have hope is that they now have tenants that are part of chains where they can negotiate as a larger entity.

Guess what - price does matter, even to Palo Altans. Who could have imagined that?

There's a lesson here for people who think that companies -- or developers and restauranteurs -- are the ones that pay for minimum wage increases or additional regulation. In the end all costs accrued by a company are passed along to consumers, or they shut down.


1 person likes this
Posted by Claire
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Does anyone know who the City Planner is assigned to this development?


Like this comment
Posted by Pat
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 10, 2018 at 9:53 am

@claire

Believe the City Planners name is Russ


18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 10, 2018 at 2:21 pm

If Nijiya or Ranch 99 opens at this location, I promise to shop there at least once a week. I know lots of other people who will do the same. Just saying.


6 people like this
Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 11, 2018 at 5:52 am

Sea Seelam Reddy is a registered user.

We mourn the closure of CT Market.

It was a project meant to fail.

Out of town owners with good intentions, great leader Ron staff Bob Matthew Jeannie and more and capable team that can be great workers leaders in any store.

I live in college terrace, happened to be the first customer on that Wednesday June 13/14, 2017 three days before graduation.

The deli expectations were high. They were comparing their prices to Molly Stones near the SF bound/coming customers that pay anything less than 25% higher SF stores.

CT deli leader priced everything comparable to MollyStones. Chiken Salad was $12.99/lb and most of the sandwiches were over $11 dollars.

I begged them that CT and around spend lot of their rental living paying 60% for living not much room for expensive sandwiches etc. They heard, but did not act quickly to remove the perception of 'high markup' prices.

Once a store gets a reputation of 'expensive' the word gets around.

A few other structural aspects of building, the 2100 EC Real. The strip of red zone is in front of the market not rest of the building.

I begged them to visit our local successful stores of that size, Sigonas in Stanford Mall and De Marini in Los Altos, and Milk Pail etc.

I tried to get them connected with the Sushi people at Dreagers in Los Altos. They never pursued from both sides.

I like Starbucks and meet many of my friends there. I changed my coffee habits and for the last six months bought drip coffee at $1.75 and did not buy coffee from Starbucks but bought oatmeal from them.

I tweeted a dozen times about the market and pluses of parking.

I spoke at city council 4-5 times at public speaking opportunity.
I encouraged many of my friends at Equinox to try.

I tried, we tried, yet, we lost.
I cry for College Terrace Market.

respectfully



4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2018 at 8:01 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Sea Seelam Reddy

Do you think an Asian market could prosper there? Think of Madras Groceries in Sunnyvale and Rose Market in Mt. View (Iranian and ME) in addition to markets already mentioned? Is it worth exploring before letting the developer off the hook?


12 people like this
Posted by Larencie
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 11, 2018 at 12:04 pm

To those who say the local market area is not big enough, [portion removed] Stanford alone has/is adding hundreds of new residents within several blocks, including University Terrace, new Escondido Village, recent affordable housing apt building on El Camino next to WF Bank. Then look at the housing going up on Park and near the railroad, as well as plans for El Camino and Page Mill. There are plenty of (new) local people who would shop here for convenience items if nothing else, just offer them what they want at decent prices. Fine to make the developer subsidize if needed--he understood this risk when he invested, and now that he has made his money, the community should get what it was promised.


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

How much have the demographics of the College Terrace community changed since the initial campaign years ago to “save JJ&F? If it’s like the rest of the city, the replacement of a long-term resident is often a replacement of someone with a European background by someone from a different part of the world.

By now, I would expect that change to be significant, justifying a serious look at whether a grocery/deli option with an Asian focus could make it. The developer should be required to charge below-market rent indefinitely. It (the developer) got the project approved due to the grocery accommodation. An ongoing expense to subside a grocery store would be similar to having to borrow funds long-term at a slightly higher rate to take advantage of a chance to build a lot of office space in a time of high demand.L


2 people like this
Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2018 at 12:50 am

Sea Seelam Reddy is a registered user.

Mr. Jerry Underdal

Your ideas for indian and or Persian store might work as a boutique store.

Yet, I have asked two successful new businesses; Zareen's Pakistan food on Cal Avenue to add another location and the Market at Edgewood to add another location. I would also like De Martini, Segona's and MilkPail market. Even Target Express might work.

The community will benefit by having a general stop and go store that is reasonable; not overpriced items. No one is willing to pay 30% more for things they can drive to in 2-4 mile distance.

Respectfully


6 people like this
Posted by Claire
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2018 at 10:29 am

The City Planning Staff overseeing the project should all be fired. Including Russ, Jonathan and Hilary.


Like this comment
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2018 at 11:21 am

"There are plenty of (new) local people who would shop here for convenience items if nothing else, just offer them what they want at decent prices"

"The community will benefit by having a general stop and go store that is reasonable; not overpriced items."

Everyone wants a pony.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2018 at 11:30 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Me 2,

What’s your take on my suggestion that the city study seriously the advantages and feasibility of having an Asian-themed grocery/deli in that space? Have you discussed it with friends and neighbors?


2 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2018 at 11:56 am

Asia is a big place, so I have to assume you mean East, South or Southeast Asian, unless you want to consider a Russian or Afghan market there too.

I can't speak to South Asian, but many of the successful East Asian markets that also stock Southeast Asian ingredients (e.g., 99 Ranch and Marina) are almost as big as Safeway these days. The old days of dusty markets in Chinatown as the only place you can find Companion Grass Jelly have been gone for 30 years.

Therefore the space is too small.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm

No Asian businessman is stupid enough to try and run a successful grocery store out of that horrible location and hideous building. The Architectural Review Board should be fired for approving that abomination. This building is another example of how ugly Palo Alto is becoming.


Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2018 at 1:09 pm

There are just too many small stores easy walking distance from the location, including TJs, Country Sun and Molly Stones. I don't think a small store will survive there. Hoping that Edgewood will thrive being farther away from everything else.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Me 2

"Therefore the space is too small."

We agree that the space is too small to compete with Ranch99 as a regional destination for Asian food. The College Terrace location has some locational advantages, though. Ranch 99 is a typical large grocery store in the middle of an autocentric shopping center on Grant. I think a College Terrace location would have more lunchtime appeal for deli customers than Ranch99.

You may be right that there is no viable option for an Asian market in Palo Alto despite the new demographics. A marketing study should be undertaken before dismissing or adopting the idea.


Like this comment
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2018 at 6:20 pm

" I think a College Terrace location would have more lunchtime appeal for deli customers than Ranch99. "

Are there really enough businesses walking distance to College Terrace? I have my doubts.

"A marketing study should be undertaken before dismissing or adopting the idea."

Dahua (99 Ranch) is probably as good as Starbucks and McDonalds in picking the right location for its stores. if the company sees an opportunity in an area like Palo Alto, it would be all over it.

Maybe too many residentialists to be of interest here...

In any case, our city government should get out of the business of dictating types of retail locations. We have a dead movie theater on Page Mill, no grocery store in College Terrace and a Byzantine mess downtown.


4 people like this
Posted by You got what you deserved
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2018 at 6:29 pm

Me2- the movie theater one page mill Israel far from dead. There are two grocery stores within walking distance of CT and 3-4 within easy driving.
But I agreed the council should get out of dictating retail.


4 people like this
Posted by MikeCrescentPark
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2018 at 6:45 pm

We in Crescent Park currently have a live continuing experiment that might make a good example for any other neighborhoods looking for an answer to hosting a grocery store.

I have lived through round one of the Edgewood grocery saga like thousands of us in the greater Crescent Park neighborhood. We had a nice grocery market the first time, but not because the developer wanted it. It was there because the city would not give him permission to build unless he provided a grocery. And it failed. Despite the word on the street that it was doing well (but its sister stores were not), it could not have done well. Every time I was in the store (several times weekly) there were at most a few other folks shopping. Simply put we did not support the store.

Now after seemingly years of complaining and discussions we have a second shot-the new store is open and its round Two. Patronage does look better than before. But its not clear its enough to make this one successful either. I hope it is because this store works well for me and my family. And the grocer is working hard to make it attractive and responsive and competitive.

If it does not make it I can only think that the idea of dictating retail business formulas in return for permits is a bad idea. Didn't the Soviet Union work though endless cycles of five year plans dictating the formation of businesses, production and prices? That did not end well.


Like this comment
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 15, 2018 at 9:24 am

" the movie theater one page mill [is] far from dead."

From a business standpoint it is/was. Don't forget that the chain wanted to close it but required city intervention to keep it open. Yet another situation where the city is trying to dictate retail presence in a place where the market doesn't really want it.


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2018 at 9:42 am

This space is probably to small for a Ranch 99, but a smaller Asian market like Nijiya could certainly fit. The smaller market would have fresh produce and fish, but no butcher or hot food. The closest Nijiya to Palo Alto is currently in Sunnyvale.


1 person likes this
Posted by allen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:25 pm

If someone wants to know the secret of a successful grocery store just look at Safeway and Piazzis. You have your choice of driving 15 minutes to Safeway and having low prices and long lines. A large story with two checkout lines open. Or you can go to Piazzis and you have a medium size store with crazy high prices and six checkers and no lines. This is a time is money story. Cater to people who value their time more than low prices and you can have a successful business. A local store that has everything you want and no lines at checkout and you can charge $5 for an Artichoke. It isn't that hard.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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