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why Palo Alto businesses keep failing

Original post made by consumer, Midtown, on Apr 17, 2013

Interesting article in the Mercury-News about why Palo Alto businesses keep failing and why local residents have no loyalty to local shopping centers. Huge regular rent increases are making everyone paranoid: Web Link


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Posted by Midtown Shopper
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 10:49 am

I like Midtown and agree that it is a strange mix, but it does have charm and I would rather have it look the way it does than the mess that was Mikis.

It nearly died a death a decade ago, but it revitalised. At times it is hard to find parking! I miss Butterfly Life which was unique, but now we have several exercise places and also a yoga studio has just opened down the road.

An outside seating area near Safeway would be nice so that we could eat lunch from Safeway with our coffee from Starbucks.

Yes, please let us have a nice mix of retail, less office storefronts, but the buildings have a charm which is being lost. When Palo Alto tries to change something we end up with Mikis, which we don't want to see repeated. (Not the store, but the architecture).

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Posted by Few Customers
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2013 at 5:26 pm

You are right Greg Scharff our Mayor is "unaware there is a problem." Why, because like most members of the City Council he concentrates entirely on North Palo Alto's problems.

"The city has to control the type of stores going in, and insist on retail." said Annette Glanckopf, a leader of the Midtown Residents Association. Unfortunately, this is the problem. The Midtown Association got Council to pass an ordinance that severely limits the property owners who must rent only for retail.

Retail is on the way out, and no service companies are permitted to rent ground-floor space, so the owners of the properties are very limited in what they can do. This leads to owners being thoroughly disinterested in their property, letting it decay, and just making as much money out of it as they can.

The Midtown Association should back-off, and give the property owners the freedom to rent to whomever they want. You can't legislate property owners to set up shops, when there are fewer and fewer customers.

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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Annette needs to step back. What ever happened to free market nd property rights. Should the city tell owners what kind of stores they will allow to open on their property. I think sthat is heading down a slippery slope..
Why bother with small shops that carry limited product, whe you cn travel a few miles nd have descent shopping in mountain view. The Safeway in midtown is a perfect example of a typica undersized palo alto store.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

> Mayor Greg Scharff admitted that the council could clamp down and insist on more retail. He was unaware there was a problem.

Sounds like Palo Alto City Government to me - unaware, and disconnected.

I don't know why on Earth people rent these places, and if they do and continue to low profits are their own fault.

This overcharging for rent doesn't help anyone. The 31 Flavors store there must be really hard hit because the constantly turn down their refrigeration presumably to save electricity which turns their ice cream soft and mushy.

The other thing is that the landlords never fix anything. The bathroom in the old video store there was out of commission for weeks at one point and I was told the landlord refused to fix it.

The floors had all cracked and buckled and nothing was done.

Guess that is the free market ... if people want it to work they need to not pay the rents. If the landlords can find suckers to work for them that's too bad.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

OK, according to Diamond - better array of stores included a toy store, video store and bookstore. All three types of business are either extinct (video & books) or outclassed and underpriced by the larger stores in the area (Costco, Target, etc.). And don't forget eBay, Amazon, etc.

Funny how Diamond only sees Safeway as "saving the area". Last I checked, both CVS and Walgreen's are fairly big stores with plenty to sell.

You can't force retail into an neighborhood if no one is going to buy the product. The same thing has happened at the Rancho shopping center in Los Altos. Less shops, more services.

I don't go to the Midtown Safeway. Parking is can be a challenge at times. Selection is limited due lack of space. No self check out. Don't bother going after work. Nice people who work there - it's not their fault that the store suffers from being too small and limited parking.