With Khoury's Market closed, Palo Alto looks to beef up fines against building owner | Town Square | Palo Alto Online |

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With Khoury's Market closed, Palo Alto looks to beef up fines against building owner

Original post made on Feb 11, 2020

Palo Alto is preparing to sharply ramp up fines against the owner of College Terrace Centre, the blocklong development on El Camino Real that has been facing neighborhood scorn for its failure to maintain an operating grocery store.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 9:49 AM

Comments (24)

21 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2020 at 10:21 am

Can the city get Michael Frank and all other residents that live within a 1 mile radius to commit to doing ALL of their food shopping at whatever market opens at this site?

It is easy to say "...not having a market deprives the area of a valued amenity..." and what they mean is that only on Sunday night when they need a quart of milk do they want a local market but otherwise they do all their shopping elsewhere.

Stop comparing a new market with JJ&F, it is not 1980. Shopping habits have changed.

/marc


20 people like this
Posted by Bad idea
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2020 at 11:07 am

What could go wrong- an undersized, understocked, overpriced market that CT residents don’t shop at.


30 people like this
Posted by progress?
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2020 at 11:41 am

The developer clearly set Khoury's Market up to fail. There was never permanent signage on Khoury's (in contrast to the bank and music school), whose exterior was covered by perpetual construction. I've heard the developer's objective was to get around the requirement for a grocery store (claiming it's not viable at that location) and instead rent the space to a far more lucrative tech office. I sincerely hope that this time the city will be able to collect the much deserved daily penalty.


11 people like this
Posted by Bill Reller
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2020 at 11:59 am

I agree with Marc's comments.

A food market will never be successful in that development. The design was contrived to accommodate a market, theoretically, but in practice will never work. Imagine parking in a garage, elevating to a grocery cart, shopping, then reversing the process out, negotiating ramps, etc. No surface parking= no customers. JJF is a few blocks away, not a big deal, with parking on the surface like other successful markets.

Fine the owner as provided in agreements, thats fair, but a market will never make it.


31 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2020 at 12:08 pm

A deal was struck years ago. I happen to think it would have been better to not grant the requested PC, but the developer was slick and CC granted his request with a required public benefit that has proven, predictably enough, challenging. But it is what it is and it is important that the City not fold and forgive the required public benefit. That is an important principle. Oberman is raking in rents from a far oversized development so my guess is that he's fine. As for the three grocers, their families, and all the employees who have been raked since the inception of this development, one can only hope they all recover from their losses.


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2020 at 12:21 pm


The owner can try an option that might have a better chance of success and lift the burden of future fines--a grocery store tailored to meet College Terrace residents' needs while satisfying the desire of Palo Altans to buy Asian specialties locally. Could it be any riskier than trying again to bring back a replica of JJ&F?


33 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Annette immediately above is correct. A deal is a deal. The City reluctantly agreed to bust open the zoning restriction for that part of Palo Alto, and only did so because the owner agreed to restrictive convenants in exchange. Namely, providing the public benefit of a grocery store.

The City should NOT let the new owner renege now.

Kudos to the Palo Alto City Council for taking a firm stand.


29 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Posted by Marc, a resident of Midtown

>> Can the city get Michael Frank and all other residents that live within a 1 mile radius to commit to doing ALL of their food shopping at whatever market opens at this site?

It doesn't matter. A deal is a deal, even if the owner has to pay someone to keep a store open there.

This is a lesson for the future: no more upzoning, no more "benefit" deals, no more planned communities with office space, nothing. Palo Alto does not need any more office space, period.

In the meantime, fine the owner until a new store is established, even if it has negative rent.


27 people like this
Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2020 at 12:51 pm

The landlord did not return calls to the Khourys. He has continued to shield the market with shrouding and netting and never provided signage. The infrastructure was never sound with pipes breaking in the grocery store and in the bank. The elevator was broken down. Why wouldn't a landlord support his tenant? Certainly it is reasonable to work with one's tenant to foster success yet he did the opposite perhaps by design. In my opinion Oberman's performance in front of the council was weak and he appeared to speak off the cuff. Was it vanity that drove him to just show up? I question his assertion that the Khourys had stopped paying rent after the first month. He has an obligation to abide by the covenant and stop playing the city and the community. What this landlord does not realize, in my opinion, is that he has tarnished his brand by being litigious and not respecting the tenant, city and community.


32 people like this
Posted by A deal is a deal
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:10 pm

When the owner agreed to provide the public benefit in return for relaxed zoning, he was agreeing to maintain the public benefit regardless of its profitability. The owner agreed to provide a grocery store. Period. Even if the store requires substantial subsidies from the owner.

It seems the owner was making a half-hearted effort to provide a grocery store, perhaps with the hope that he would be permitted to convert an unsuccessful grocery store into profitable offices. The City cannot let him play that game. The owner is a businessman and should know that a contract is a contract.


11 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Marc has it absolutely right. Jerry has it wrong. An Asian market will also fail. The footprint of the store is too small to be successful no matter what is stocked on the shelves.

The Daily Post reports today that the Khoury's were one year behind in their rent. The market failed because not enough people shopped there to sustain it, not because it was covered with netting for a few months.


6 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:19 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:20 pm

Maybe the distressed neighbors should form a co-op and run a grocery store.


8 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:22 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Final comment....if anyone should be held accountable, it's the city, for allowing this to happen in the first place.


22 people like this
Posted by Lydia Kou
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:35 pm


Michael Frank...good for you for supporting local retail and grocery shops, getting to know your neighbors and establishing community and relationships.


23 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Let this be a lesson to the city. STOP granting these public benefit walk arounds of existing zoning.


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Posted by What Will They Do Next, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> Final comment....if anyone should be held accountable, it's the city, for allowing this to happen in the first place.

You have a very, very, very bizarre concept of "accountability".

Picture a cartoon of a courtroom. The accused's lawyer stands and points to a policeman. "You allowed this to happen!"


4 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 4:28 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by @Old Palo Alto
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 11, 2020 at 4:36 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 5:52 pm

@ anon.... you have a bizarre concept of how things work in city government.


8 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 5:55 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2020 at 6:00 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by @Old Palo Alto
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 11, 2020 at 6:12 pm

[Post removed.]


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