Official says two stores may take all space for retail project's next phase
Almost four years after the initial efforts to plan for the Gateway 101 redevelopment project, East Palo Alto city officials and store executives gathered Tuesday to celebrate the start of construction.
"It has not been an easy process to get to the point we are at now," said Mayor R.B. Jones at a gathering in the City Council Chambers. Those present included store officials, San Mateo County officials, three Palo Alto City Council members, and two former East Palo Alto City Council members.
"We want everyone to know how proud Home Depot is to be part of the project to help rebuild East Palo Alto," said Amy Friend, public relations manager for Home Depot, one of the project's anchor tenants. "We are anxious to start building our store."
The first four Gateway stores may be open as early as September 1998. Besides Home Depot, Office Depot, the Good Guys and CompUSA will build stores, and Taco Bell and McDonald's will build restaurants in Gateway's first phase, which will include almost 200,000 square feet of buildings on about 30 acres of the former Ravenswood High School. The stores are expected to provide jobs for local residents and generate more than $1 million a year for the city in sales tax revenue.
The Gateway celebration also comes at a fortuitous time for city officials, who are sweating the results of next week's police tax election, Measure I, which needs a two-thirds majority to pass. Now, city officials can point to Gateway as a sign of the progress the city has made toward redevelopment.
Bob Beyer, the Gateway project manager for the city, announced at the celebration that two other, unnamed stores have approached the city about taking all of the space in Gateway's second phase. The next phase includes 12 acres between the high school site and University Avenue, immediately east of the freeway. With the first phase of the project beginning, Beyer said he would now sit down and begin official negotiations with the other two retailers.
"We want to thank the city and City Council for sticking with us," said Greg Steele, vice president for real estate for the Good Guys company. "We are as excited today as we were two and half years ago."
"This project will serve to represent the East Palo Alto of the future, a city that welcomes development," said Vice Mayor Sharifa Wilson. She added that planning is under way for the University Circle redevelopment project west of the freeway, and the planning process has just begun for the Ravenswood Industrial Park redevelopment project along Bay Road.
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