News


College Terrace Market plans to shutter

Neighborhood grocery store faced a shaky start

College Terrace Centre had a rocky beginning when it opened along El Camino Real, with little pedestrian traffic and lack of signage, among other obstacles. Photo by Veronica Weber.

The manager of Palo Alto's College Terrace Market said Saturday that the long-awaited neighborhood grocery store will close, just six months after opening.

In a post on the grocery store's Facebook page, general manager Ron Jensen didn't provide further explanation on the pending closure or a date for the market's last day of business, but was thankful for the store's relationship with the community.

"When we opened College Terrace Market, we set out to create a community market that could give residents and students in our neighborhood a place to shop for high quality food with a staff of knowledgeable and friendly faces," Jensen wrote in a message addressed to neighbors.

"Along the way, we've met a lot of new friends, and feel very close to this community. It is with great sadness and regret that we are announcing that College Terrace Market will be closing it's (sic) doors in the very near future."

Until then, everything in the store is 50 percent off the retail price, Jensen said.

The 8,000-square-foot store at 2100 El Camino Real is part of College Terrace Centre, a mixed-use, transit-oriented development also housing First Republic Bank that opened its doors over the summer. A grocery store was one of the requirements at the site when the City Council approved the project in 2014 under the planned community ordinance.

College Terrace Market was the successor to JJ&F Market, a family-owned grocery store that was a neighborhood staple for 65 years before shuttering in 2013, when it was issued a notice to leave the premises for the new centre that stands there today. Yelp considered moving its headquarters to the development, but backed out from the plan in early 2016.

About 60 customers went through the market's doors at its June soft opening, when co-owner Chris Iversen described the business as a store that provides "Whole Foods quality with Trader Joe's prices."

Iversen told the Weekly in a previous interview that he wouldn't continue operating the market if it wasn't profitable six months after opening.

The store is stocked with products from local, organic food manufacturers and has a bakery, full-service meat department, deli and ice cream bar, among other features. Each aisle is named after a street within the neighborhood, including Stanford and Oxford avenues.

Customers and neighbors grew concerned of the market's future early on with the area's little pedestrian traffic, lack of clear signage and potential competitors, including First Republic's plans to build an cafeteria in the building for bank employees and small convenience store eyed for Stanford University's Escondido Village housing development.

In a comment on the store's announcement of the closure, customer Kim Darnell expressed her disappointment with losing a community grocery store conveniently located in the neighborhood.

"Unfortunately, the prices have just been too high to make it a regular place to shop," she wrote. "The managers and staff have always been very nice every time I've been in. Thank you for trying to make it work."

Calls made to the grocery store went unanswered Sunday morning.

Related content:

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

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Comments

105 people like this
Posted by Get Your Bargains While They Last
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2017 at 10:33 am

I went in yesterday! At 50% off, some items were actually affordable.

But this was always a store designed to fail. It was never competitive with other grocery places in this part of town. Some folks in College Terrace were suckered into supporting the vastly over-sized College Terrace Centre office complex because they thought it would somehow preserve JJ&F, which of course didn't happen. JJ&F and then Miki Werness were just tools dragged out to fool the public -- and it worked. Twice.

The College Terrace Centre developer will probably just pay a modest penalty (or wriggle out of even that, as Sand Hill did at Edgewood Plaza) and send some fat donations to the pro-development, anti-resident City Council majority that let this travesty happen in the first place.


100 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 31, 2017 at 10:40 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Absolutely right it was designed to fail, esp. given the very weird parking lot access.

But hey, PA's got another ugly office building and yet again the residents got nothing.


58 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 31, 2017 at 10:56 am

Not surprised. Edgewood market will be next. Palo Alto loves to boost that they have these “specialty stores”, but they rarely shop there. Most shop at Safeway, Costco, Walmart, Target and Traders Joes because of their prices.


82 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2017 at 11:03 am

The problem with most of these little grocery stores is they sell exactly the same stuff as bigger stores that have a bigger selection and easier parking and usually lower prices. Very little reason for people to shop there unless you live within a couple of blocks. Why doesn't one of these small stores try something different, like an Asian market like Nijiya or Ranch 99? There is plenty of demand for these types of stores and the closest competition a long drive down to Sunnyvale.


44 people like this
Posted by cheeseguy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 31, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Amazed it lasted this long. It had no appeal at all -- lousy selection, high prices, -- it filled no niche other than being close to College Terrace.
I differ with Al and Resident (posts above) about Edgewood market. It clearly has the best produce in town at the best prices, it's clearly worth driving out of the way in order to buy any produce related item there. I think people will notice this difference and it will succeed.
However, I do agree that a South Asian market (something like India Cash and Carry in Sunnyvale) would be an instant hit. Hell, I drive 15 miles twice a month just to shop there and Palo Alto has an ever growing S. Asian population.


23 people like this
Posted by visited once
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Dec 31, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Stopped in there once. The place was very dark, selection was limited, prices were high and parking unclear. A true formula for success..


10 people like this
Posted by Jenny
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 31, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Don’t know what they were thinking, it’s too small and only street parking. There was hardly any produce. In a big city, perhaps but here in the ‘burbs, we can drive to bigger stores.


57 people like this
Posted by Sad outcome
a resident of Mayfield
on Dec 31, 2017 at 2:18 pm

As soon as they named it Centre instead of Center, I considered it an omen for their phony taste and lack straight forwardness.

The awful mustard color has been repainted. But the garage opening is hard for a driver to see and forbidding to this driver. Have to drive down into a dark hole.

The architect listed is Tony Carrasco.
Web Link
Tasteless, greedy, overwhelms the street. How could anyone screw up such a promising corner site? How could the city staff allow it? and the ARB?

Last spring people reacted to the structure and the corner design:
Web Link


28 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I fear it was designed to fail. Hard to find with a temporary looking sign, hard to find parking, and hard to find staples with poor selection of bread on the one time I went in. I had hoped it would improve and do well, but I felt that it was just marking time.


21 people like this
Posted by Duveneck Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Maybe I am not the norm, but a small store is generally fine for my needs. I get bulky items delivered with Google shopping, so the big stores are just redundant. Small stores is just what I need. The Market at Edgewood is great!


30 people like this
Posted by Jamie
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 31, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Edgewood really is different - if you haven’t been, you must try it. The produce is amazing.


27 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Piazza's, Mollie Stone's, Draegers and Lunardi's are small specialty stores that are hugely successful in and around Palo Alto. And Grocery Outlet is certainly working well on Alma Street. The original store in the Edgewood shopping center was very successful. There is every possibility that the new store will be too. It can be done, but they do have to find the right formula. And they do need grocery store rent, not nail salon rent. And lastly, they need experienced management. JJ&F were successful in that spot for many years.


42 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 31, 2017 at 4:13 pm

The article states that the former occupant of the space, JJ&F Market "was a neighborhood staple for 65 years before shuttering in 2013, when it was issued a notice to leave the premises for the new centre that stands there today."

Certainly, this suggests that, under the right circumstances, another market could also be successful in this location.

In any event, the developer agreed to provide a grocery in exchange for zoning concessions. They should be held accountable to do so, even if this requires accepting a significant reduction in the rent.

The rent paid by First Republic Bank and other tenants would likely make up the difference. And if not, that's business. Success is not guaranteed.


44 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2017 at 6:59 pm

This is perhaps the ugliest building that I have ever seen. A true monstrosity on a small scale of big awful taste.
The store meant well, but had the most pathetic produce and meat selection I have ever seen.
It looked more like one of the small markets you see in SF. I love the idea of a south asian market.
It would be the only way to compete. JJF was beloved, but also a bit dingy. At least they had some good meat.


14 people like this
Posted by Michael O
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 31, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Figures. Doomed to fail from the start. Miki can’t run anything. Too bad. I can’t believe the city allowed it from the footprint in the plans. Too small, no parking. Yikes.

Building, however, is not a problem for me. The rotting futon shop and JJ&F were horrible eyesores and it’s great to have them gone. JJ&F’s last iteration was filthy and disgusting. New building is a welcome change.


34 people like this
Posted by Frequent Grocery Shopper
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 1, 2018 at 8:51 am

I'm afraid the College Terrace debacle was easy to see coming. I went there just days after it opened, expecting to see something amazing. Instead, it looked like some weird amalgamation between a Long's and s Safeway. The fruit looked pretty bad (which for Palo Alto is an instant deal breaker), and since I was the only person in the store, it was kind of disquieting.

The new Edgewood market is at-risk for this same fate. To be sure, it's a nicer store than College Terrace, and it doesn't have that weird "we're also a general merchandise store" feel that College Terrace had. But I've visited there five times already, and every single time the employees outnumber the customers. It's impossible to keep a grocery store going if you have a few dozen customers a day.

I want to echo what a few others have said - - the NO BRAINER is to open up an Asian market in the same location. It would do GREAT. I can't believe in this "entrepreneurial" area no one has bothered to execute such an insanely obvious idea.


20 people like this
Posted by You got what you deserved
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 1, 2018 at 9:29 am

Of course this was destined to fall (But college terrace, as usual had to be placated
1. There are 2 stores very close and trader joes and Safeway a very short drive away
2. What is the fascination with mikis wetness
3. What is palo Altos desire for small, overpriced grocery stores
4. Why didn't the college terrace residents not support this store

And there was plenty of parking. And I would not complain about how the building looks. It is a vast improvement over what wad there before.
It is unfortunate that thanks to college terrace and their demand to protect jj&f that palo alto is stuck with pathetic small grocery shopping options.


16 people like this
Posted by Place the blame were it is deserved
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm

This is the community's fault. They demanded the developer add a grocery store even when all could see the old and unkempt JJ&F couldn't make it. No matter what they try here - Asian focus or other, it just won't survive. The Community is too picky to fully support a neighborhood market that by very definition needs to be limited and less capable than larger and more efficient stores. So much of the typical "stand in the rain and cry when you get wet" talk here...

How about we start to just be reasonable about the demands we place on people who are interested in developing better buildings and more convenient services. This would have been much better as a 'simple food' restaurant like a Mike's Cafe or something similar. Should have had a requirement for more housing rather than the retail use that cannot survive on ECR in this area.


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2018 at 12:38 pm

What I see from this whole debacle is that Palo Alto residents are much more likely to drive to a full service supermarket for weekly groceries than use a local small market for anything other than occasional small shopping trips.

I think it is time for Palo Alto to rethink our attitude towards supermarkets and the size and parking situations.

Midtown Safeway is a good store, always busy, but not up to par with the larger stores in the area. It is often hard to park in Midtown and they sell out of staples such as varieties of bread and milk before dinnertime.

I would like to see some way of improving that Safeway. I would suggest that the Los Altos store with parking underneath the store, or San Antonio store with parking on the roof, are ideas that should be addressed. Midtown is always busy. Parking in the public parking lot as well as Safeway lot shows that it is a vibrant area with locals.

I say it again, we need better grocery stores in Palo Alto. What we have in town serves niche markets. Let's get this done.


14 people like this
Posted by carefulbalancedconsideration
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 1, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Tragically unsurprising.


22 people like this
Posted by Ken
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

We need a bigger Safeway! Let’s stop kidding ourselves, that’s where we want to one stop shop!


5 people like this
Posted by macbaldy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 1, 2018 at 3:58 pm

College Terrace is a changing community. But any JJ&F successor has to compete with Molly Stone's and all other options that are reachable when a shopper travels by car. This college terrace location may have hoped to tap into Stanford's large Escondido Village community but not with such high prices, and Stanford's been expanding its food options internally as it has densified EV. New Stanford faculty housing has been built around College Terrace but when families need groceries, they'll drive and then proximity becomes less important than cost and assortment. Today's hyperactive peninsula society is no longer well-served by small neighborhood grocers. This closure is less surprising than the insistence on replacing a subsistence legacy of JJ&F. I've lived variously around College Terrace, Evergreen Park, and Stanford for about 47 years. I've used Midtown stores, the former CO-OP that's now Molly Stone's, and other Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Mountain View stores. JJ&F only occasionally met a few niche needs when I'd use the now-displace coin-op laundromat a half-block away. Otherwise, that hasn't been a first-option for groceries, ever.


22 people like this
Posted by Jeff Dillon
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 1, 2018 at 4:27 pm

I'm glad it failed. This building is ugly and should not be there. Lesson for next time: don't build junk like this.


28 people like this
Posted by Stanford resident
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 1, 2018 at 5:02 pm

I am very sorry to see this store closing. While I first visited there only recently, I found it to be a very nice experience, and would have liked to be able to make it part of my shopping routine. I shopped for years at JJ&F and always appreciated their friendly staff, easy access and ability to pick up necessities quickly. As I read the comments people have written, I have to say some of them struck me as overly critical and even unkind. I personally would like to thank the owners and staff for all their efforts to create a special store for our community.

In my view, the interior of College Terrace Market is certainly as nice as any of its competitors, and offered the possibility of easily picking up some nice fish or meat, deli items, freshly baked bread, eggs, quality dairy products etc. There was clearly a lot of care put into the selection of items, such as the displays of the wines, and the staff were very friendly. I agree that their selection and prices might not suit everyone but I believe there is a market for what they tried to achieve, and hope there will be another possibility of something similar in that location.


24 people like this
Posted by A concerned citizen
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 1, 2018 at 5:30 pm

It would be great if they can convert the space into a food court that house some street food at affordable price for a quick meal.they can be successful at that location. We need ramen shop, pho shop, udon shop, Mongolian Bar B Q .......etc close to our neighborhood! A food court can make the rent more affordable.


13 people like this
Posted by Smart Guy
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 1, 2018 at 8:04 pm

Replace with a Grocery Outlet, like they did at Alma and East Meadow. That seemed to work out just fine. People are overleveraged on their rent or mortgage. They make up the difference by shopping the best deals on groceries.


8 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:06 am

The size of the store is non-competitive for a grocery store; it means that the quantity and selection of items will be less than other stores in the area. So each checkout basket will be smaller, and the store would either need to make it up in volume of checkout (unlikely given the parking), or go for stocking high profit margin items (like becoming a liquor store, with snacks).

The space is too small to work for the ethnic store, like Ranch 99, etc.

It could work for a Milk Pail produce market, if the parking provides the volume, or a place focused on seafood (Cook's) or high end meat butcher shop (Schwab's), provided those meet the definition of a "grocery" store.


11 people like this
Posted by NoBrainer
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 9:28 am

This does not surprise me because this store was doomed from the start. The owners of the store were both from out of the area and have had no experience running a grocery store, didn't really understand the local market dynamics, never made an attempt to become part of the local college terrace community, delayed filing with the city for signage on the building facade, over priced their goods when you look at the local competition and a poor business plan over all.


24 people like this
Posted by Stanford resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 9:37 am

Why does Palo Alto have a Planning Department if staggeringly ugly, cheap, impractical buildings like this one are approved for prominent locations? This entire project is an huge loss for our community.


13 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 9:56 am

@Abitarian - College Terrace Market has a very deep discount on rent. This community is to blame for market's failure. I never once saw the heads of the College Terrace neighborhood HOA shopping at College Terrace Market. The neighborhood has never led by example.... they demanded a market be included with the new building, they won and received a new market, they failed the new market by not supporting their demand.


11 people like this
Posted by old white woman
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:28 am

Another vote for an Asian grocery!


34 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:48 am

The City Council gets considerable blame for this. The City's "planned community" ordinance is a public nuisance that attracts impractical projects. Developers go over the top in promising things they cannot deliver in order to get zoning overrides.

The City Council fails us in three ways on these projects:
1. Vetting: The City does not vet the projects to make sure that they make sense. The old JJ&F market wasn't making it, why would they think that a new one would?
2. Proper contracts: The developer at Edgewood has just gotten out of the penalties that the City tried to impose. This was caused by very poorly written documents for which the City Council and staff are to blame.
3. Enforcement: The City has a poor record of enforcing PC's.

There is now another chance for the City to enforce a PC. The ordinance now requires the builder to establish another market there. This time, the City's paperwork looks like it is sustainable in court. We now need to push the City to enforce the ordinance and get a new market.


16 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:57 am

Even I gave up on College Terrace and it wasn't because of the size of the store, I appreciate a smaller sized store and I appreciate a local store on this side of El Camino. I would advocate giving the location a second chance as a grocery or market with more experienced management.
I am sad to see this market fail but I'm not surprised. Despite the fact that the staff were outstandingly friendly, welcoming and helpful, I don't think the management knew how to run a grocery store. In my opinion, they needed to begin with lower prices so that the wags in the community wouldn't immediately start spreading the deadly word that "the store has high prices". They also needed to do a better job early on of pulling out-dated merchandise and keeping the shelves stocked, even though that adds to the very high costs of getting started. A shopper will quickly become distrustful if they find old produce in the store. And its easy to give up after trying to make it your regular store if the supplies of every day items are depleted. Finally, they kept changing brands of their items. No sooner did I become familiar with a new brand there and begin to appreciate it and in some cases visit the store because of those items, only to have them drop those items and change brands-yet again. I finally and sadly gave up trying.


26 people like this
Posted by Geriogi
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:58 am

Ok, time to rethink. City should ask them to tear this structure down and start over. How many times will we be duped? Developer should pay the full costs of this abomination.


17 people like this
Posted by midtown senior
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2018 at 11:41 am

midtown senior is a registered user.

Just as with the ridiculous traffic calming efforts and biking streets, the City Council continues to force their "idealistic" (and mistaken) views on Palo Alto's citizens without regard to either reality or public need or public opinion. Yes, College T3errace Market was a failure in concept, in location, in management, in market understanding and every aspect. One can only believe thast it was a sneaky way to approve building a horrible eyesore.


13 people like this
Posted by ferdinand
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 2, 2018 at 11:41 am

Sorry to see it fail, but curious whether local neighbors were surveyed for shopping needs? And the signage needs work. I'm a devoted Country Sun shopper for specific items, and their organic produce is affordable, but this is what would get me shopping at the CT market:

1. I'm fantasizing here, but Consider a "College Terrace/Mayfield General Store" model. Along with offeing breads/foods, connect locals with stores that have disappeared and offer a few elements of those, and even consider some in-store signage alluding to those--some small potted kitchen herbs [Common Ground], useful hardware [contact Peninsula/Cambridge Hardware owners about merchandise?], small used No Knew Books section, Sally's Ice Cream, and maybe an in-house parakeet to welcome shoppers. We can't use Cho's name as he is thriving in downtown Los Altos!

2. Totally agree about Asian market opportunity. Here are some unfilled niches [that could be combined?]. Does anyone remember the multi-ethnic Liddicoats?:

• BREAD BAKERY - with a heavy emphasis on quality, old-world type breads! Yes, there is PA Baking Co. on Cal ave but their breads are pretty bad. Imagine being able to pick up a fresh baguette, organic whole-grain peasant loaves, rye, pita, etc.; Mayfield and Douce France have some good offerings but too much traffic that way.

• Middle Eastern and/or Asian foods - Providing high quality and perhaps local suppliers of Oren's Hummus, tabouli, fresh ramen noodles, specialty Asian veg.

• Indian specialty - dal varieties, spices

• Fresh pickled/fermented foods

• Bulk foods - regular staples but also Calif. olive oil, balsamic vinegars, peanut butters, honey, olives; Whole Foods currently sells these but one gets the feeling they might drop the liquids. Also a great way to reduce plastic consumption by filling decorative glass bottles from home.


3. Consider moving the location across el Camino to capitalize on the existing foot-traffic. Perhaps the city could offer a trade? There is little reason to get to that site, and difficult, unless the CT neighbors would support its current location.

Interesting to think about how a shop can create and/or define a community.


17 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2018 at 12:10 pm

A number of people are citing the community for the failure to shop at the store. This is a valid complaint but there is an important point.

The developer campaigned in the community for his plan. He boldly promised "Only I can save JJ&F." People were rallying around the idea of JJ&F. As it turned out, JJ&F closed a few months after the city gave the developer the zoning override that he wanted.

Here is where the city failed to vet the project that was proposed. It seems likely that an investigation would have revealed that JJ&F was near to closing.

There is plenty of blame to go around here and the community gets some. But the main responsibility for seeing to it that the "community benefit" made sense belonged to the city. We trust (and pay!) the city to handle these things, and they failed to make sure the project made sense.


6 people like this
Posted by Croc Dundee
a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2018 at 12:24 pm

This repeats the failures in other communities when the city council tries to dictate the tenant mix to include a grocery store. That strategy has failed in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and San Jose. Neighbors lobby for a grocery store and then shop elsewhere. The city council yields to the few outspoken folks and the die is cast. If there were genuine demand for a grocery store in that location, there would be a grocery store in that location. The fact that the grocery store use had to be imposed tells you that the future grocery store would fail.


13 people like this
Posted by Sad Resident
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 2, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The local residents did not support the market, so it failed. Period. Stop blaming the gov't or developers or the business owner or zoning codes or anything that makes you feel better.

The residents failed to spend their money there, the store closed.

We are to blame - no one else.


8 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 2, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Oh, don't get me started on this. I remember...(and you should remember I'm old, an old timer in PA)...when we had great, but small grocery stores and specialty markets in town. I'm so old I remember a 'hole in the wall' meat market on California Ave, operated by a Chinese-American. We bought lots of meat there in the early '60's. And they had big bags of rice on the floor.

I remember the Race Street Fish and Poultry Market. Also, Liddicoats (downtown). They've been gone a long time, and Safeway, Costco, and Whole Foods, have erased those kinds of stores from the map. My 'go to' upscale market is Piazza's, within walking distance, but I drive there now that I'm older. I'm trying to remember the name of another Midtown market that had a great meat department. I think it began with a 'D'. I'll think of it eventually and post it for the benefit of all you other old timers.



6 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2018 at 1:06 pm

@Croc Dundee,

You say, "This repeats the failures in other communities when the city council tries to dictate the tenant mix to include a grocery store."

I like your post but I would like to disagree with the above sentence.

In the case of College Terrace, it was the developer, not the city, that lobbied for the grocery store. He did so because of the unique circumstance of the "planned community" ordinance in Palo Alto. He decided to use that ordinance by promising that he would save JJ&F, and he campaigned vigorously for this.

So the developer has little recourse to claiming he is being treated unfairly.


12 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 2, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@ Sad Resident

Yes, we are all to blame, but some more than others. People are still price conscious and want a great selection of quality food items at low prices. Those are incompatible elements of a small neighborhood market. I have a hunch many of our CC members knew it would fail, but voted in favor of the project anyway. How diligent will they be in enforcing the contractual agreement? They will get some experience from the EdgeWood misadventure...but will that be enough?


15 people like this
Posted by midtown senior
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:00 pm

midtown senior is a registered user.

I wonder if any Council members ever read any of the "paloaltoonline" comments! Doesn't seem like it from their actions.


9 people like this
Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:03 pm

I live in The Seminary Oaks area of Menlo Park near Willow and Middlefield. I’ve lived here for two years but I’m originally from suburban LA. I don’t understand the area’s fascination with small grocers. In my area, the Willows Market is the only grocery store in the area. We also have El Rancho and Hacienda closer to the 101 but the bread selection at Mexican grocers is horrible.I enjoy the Willows Market but only for its sandwiches and locally made ice cream. I’ll used to run in for milk, eggs or bread but thankfully the Target in East Palo Alto opened up.

I agree with Al, with the exception of those who have money to burn, most people prefer one stop shopping. I love the idea of upgrading Safeway. For some reason having to cross the train tracks into downtown Menlo Park feels like an effort. I prefer the drive to the Midtown Safeway. I think is adorable because it reminds me of Safeway in LA when I was a little kid but a more modern store like the one on San Antonio or the one in Los Altos would be awesome. Those are too far for me to go on a regular basis by the time I get to San Antonio, I’m headed to Whole Foods. It’s the nicest one in the area and more reasonable since Amazon took over.


6 people like this
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Very simple salution. Grocery outlets/Trader Joes. Thats what the new Palo Alto community wants. If you want to call this a community. So much money being made but the resisdents dont want to pay for top of the line grocerys. Cheap produce and grocerys is what this city wants now. Nothing will servive in this city. Rent is to high for anything to succeed. This is only the beginning..


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:25 pm

I strongly disagree with Chuck. I think Grocery Outlet is used by many outsiders as among the people I know, very few people go there and only occasionally. TJs is popular, but I also know a lot of people who do not like it because it is very limited and all produce and meat is prepackaged.

The success of Piazzas shows that people in Palo Alto do want good quality and the busyness of Midtown Safeway shows that we want regular brands at affordable prices.

We need to get off our high horses and accept that people here do like the huge Safeways in Mountain View and Menlo Park and are willing to drive there to do their weekly grocery shopping as well as their occasional WF and TJs for certain items. Neighborhood stores are great for forgotten or run out of items, or stopping to pick up something for dinner on the way home. But picking up regular staples that we stock up or use on a routine basis means that we will need to do that in a bigger selection store.

It is time to get Midtown Safeway upgraded with underground/rooftop parking.


15 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Mary wrote:

"@Abitarian - College Terrace Market has a very deep discount on rent. This community is to blame for market's failure. I never once saw the heads of the College Terrace neighborhood HOA shopping at College Terrace Market. The neighborhood has never led by example...".

This is not how business works, at least in this country. Community residents did *not* sign a contract requiring them to shop at the market. The developers *did* sign a contract requiring them to operate a market.

Before signing the contract, the developers should have done extensive research to determine if a grocery store was even viable in this environment and what factors would maximize their chances for success. If they could not make the numbers work, the developer should not have signed the contract.

Of course, even if they had a solid business plan, success would not be guaranteed. Grocery stores have among the highest failure rates of any type of business.

We don't know the extent of any due diligence they may have performed. We do know that at one point, one of the developers' son -- who had negligible grocery experience -- was proposed to run the market.

Perhaps this gets to the root of the problem. Of course, there are many reasons for the failure, but the bottom line is the developers had no significant experience, and likely no real interest, in operating a market. Frankly, it appears they did not have sufficient skills to even hire the right people to do the work for them.

The bottom line is they didn't even *want* to build a market. They *wanted* to build an office building that did not meet zoning code. Palo Alto's Planning and Community Environment (PCE) department and City Council agreed they could construct their office building if they included a grocery market. And voila, they were in the grocery business.

In approving this project, the PCE provided the developer with some amount of "guidance" in the design of the property and the staffing of the market. Of course, the PCE has no expertise in such matters, either.

The responsibility for the failure lies with the developer, with an assist from City Hall. The community residents were in no way obligated to patronize a store which did not meet their needs.


5 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:46 pm

midtown senior wrote:

"I wonder if any Council members ever read any of the "paloaltoonline" comments! Doesn't seem like it from their actions."

The best way to share your opinions with City Hall is send an email to city.council@cityofpaloalto.org

You may also attend City Council meetings and speak when they are hearing public comments.


3 people like this
Posted by ingrid
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Edgewood will be the next; very good merchandise but too expensive and too few shoppers. Neighbors talk a lot about needing a grocery in the neighborhood, but do not go shopping there. City Council should not enforce groceries or retail in areas which are not frequented by shoppers.


7 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2018 at 2:50 pm

@Abitarian,

You say, "The responsibility for the failure lies with the developer, with an assist from City Hall. The community residents were in no way obligated to patronize a store which did not meet their needs."

Yes, as far as it goes. But many residents (especially of College Terrace) helped the developer by supporting his application to the City Council. I remember being at the meetings and noting their enthusiasm for JJ&F.

Also, sometimes people have ulterior motives. I had people tell me that they supported the Edgewood grocery store not because they intended to use it very much, but because they were more afraid of what else could come into the space if it weren't a grocery. I think people often says nice things about business categories that are pleasant or inoffensive rather than being things they will use.


9 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:15 pm

I'd love to see Nijiya (a terrific Japanese grocery store) in the space, but I doubt they'd be dumb enough to try to make a go of such a lousy location. A multi-shop Ferry Building model would be nice, but... same location issue.

Also, the complex has a rather large yet-to-be-occupied retail/restaurant space. I bet it won't be filled anytime soon.


9 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:23 pm

@Gale: Duca & Hanley, where CVS is now. With Market Basket across the street, Purity up the street and a new Safeway down the street, our midtown supported four grocery stores. Either we ate more groceries back then, or shopper traffic has been siphoned off to Mountain View and Menlo Park.

Did we have any bets here six months ago about how long College Terrace Market would last?


8 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@musical

Thanks for that reminder. One time my parents visited I took dad there and he picked out a standing rib roast. I have memories of the event and the wonderful dinner we had are stuck in my mind!


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The Market at Edgewood has excellent produce prices -- $1.89 per lb for honeycrisp apples vs several dollars more a pound elsewhere. Their meat and fish/seafood prices are lower or comparable to elsewhere and they have lots of interesting ethnic foods. The people there are helpful and interested in hearing customers' feedback and requests for new products. Their small liquor section shows imagination and features some great artisanal brands.

As for having a larger Safeway, I'll take midtown Safeway any day rather than deal with the huge Safeways where self-checkout lines are usually empty while those with human cashiers are really really backed up.

In fact, the trend toward businesses and startups trying so hard to put people out of work and eliminate all human contact lack of imagination.


9 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Robert Smith wrote:

"@Abitarian,

You say, "The responsibility for the failure lies with the developer, with an assist from City Hall. The community residents were in no way obligated to patronize a store which did not meet their needs."

Yes, as far as it goes. But many residents (especially of College Terrace) helped the developer by supporting his application to the City Council. I remember being at the meetings and noting their enthusiasm for JJ&F."

I understand why you might take this as "evidence" of community support for the market, but I see two issues.

1. The people who show up at City Council are *not* representative of the wider community. Typically, only the most passionate supporters (or opponents) make the effort. Also, even a very large showing at City Hall, say 100 people, is still a very tiny slice of the community.

2. Supporters may have expressed "enthusiasm for JJ&F", but CTM is not the same as JJ&F. There are differences in stock, pricing, management, parking, etc. People may have been happy to continue shopping at JJ&F, or a very close facsimile, but the CTM environment did not match their wishes.

Savvy developers would have found strong justification for their business model. Competent city staff would have conducted a thorough review of the details.


19 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:54 pm

One can argue that the effort at the College Terrace market was hardly a serious one.

The owner is quoted as saying he would give it six months. This is entirely unrealistic. The industry believes you need something like 1.5-2 years to establish a new store, and that the operator has to be prepared for losses during that period.

Everyone has been predicting that the store would close in six months, and like clockwork, it comes as a New Years present.

This is part of the vetting that the City Council should have done with this project: do they have enough money and a plan for establishing the business?

Overall, a proper vetting by the City would have shown that the store was not viable.


11 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Abitarian,

I don't think we disagree very much about this at all. The most important issue to me is the failure of the City to vet the plan and make sure it would work.

I do think that community members should be more careful about what they ask for in these cases. There is a lot of unrealism and romanticism on the part of people when it comes to local stores.


9 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Did anyone really think a market could make it here? You all want high quality, convenience, and low prices. Just does not work that way. The developer knew it would fail. He had to have sucked up to the city and the residents, knew he'd lose on the market, and come out ahead overall. Groceries are the lowest margin product in retail. What did you think was going to happen? Smart developer.... foolish city.....


34 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:15 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Predictable. Pathetic. Planned.

I was in there last Friday and the empty shelves presaged this announcement. This debacle is a perfect example of why land use decisions should not be predicated on a single business. It was painfully clear during the approval process that the developer (w/the help of certain lawyers and the "usual suspects downtown") was using neighborhood affection for JJ&F and the Garcia family to garner support for the zone change. There were even some CT residents who helped this along.

What's sad about all this is that every time a grocery fails, it is the grocery families and all the employees and their families that suffer the consequences. The owners and developers will be fine while everyone else has to scramble to replace their income and benefits. I hope the City holds the developer to the letter of the deal.


9 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:28 pm

@ ferdinand....how many loaves of bread, baguettes and croissants would you need to sell to pay the rent on a place like this? I know you were engaged in a fantasy, but reality is the location stinks, the footprint is too small to be profitable and there's no parking.

As to another comment on Grocery Outlet. They are a franchise operation. I don't think they'd sell a franchise that close to another franchisee. Non-competition clause.

Asian markets like 99 Ranch need larger spaces and they all need parking, which this location is lacking.


30 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:41 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

@ Mary
"they demanded a market be included with the new building, they won and received a new market"

Well, not exactly. The property owners and their property manager, also the original developer, were determined to upzone the property, and willing to promise anything to get it. They wanted permission to exceed the zoning and get an extra 25,000 square foot of first class office space, on top of the existing 15,000 square foot that was permitted under the existing neighborhood commercial zoning, for a total of 40,000 square feet of first class office space. As their quid pro quo they came up with and proposed to permanently set aside 8,000 square foot of space for JJ&F, or a similarly experienced grocer.

The owners and their developer were not naive. It defies believe that they would not have pencilled in that the profit from leasing 40,000 square foot of first class office space over the life of the building would not cover the cost of permanently setting aside 8,000 square foot of the almost 60,000 square foot of development rights they were asking for.

Furthermore, in order to get council approval, the owners and their developer undertook a well funded, manipulative, deceptive and successful public relations campaign to persuade the public to turn out to support their plan. This culminated with a rally and bussing enough people in to fill the council chambers, using the logo "save JJ&F" as leverage for support for their proposed 60,000 square foot development.

After all, everyone likes the "idea" of having a neighborhood market, even if they don't shop there, as one leading neighborhood proponent for the development put it to me. Or, as the then co-owner of JJ&F told me, if only a fraction of the people who turned up to pressure the council actually shopped at JJ&F they would not have run into such financial difficulties!


36 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:47 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

There is a lot more behind this story. We may find that the owners and property manager have another long-term plan. Which just might explain the many difficulties the current owners of the market have encountered with the property management. For example, a lack of cooperation allowing them proper exterior signage, refusal to provide a sign for the underground garage, refusal to allow them to use the onsite refuse area (as set forth in the agreement with the city) forcing them to place their refuse bins just down the street from the entrance, which I believe may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Also, unfortunately, the date the market was to open when the lease was signed was significantly delayed by interior construction, caused by the developer or the property management I do not know. However, this long delay before they could open the doors caused them to eat into significant amounts of the two years worth of capital set aside to fund the store until it could become profitable.

Perhaps the lawyers are making a profit.


21 people like this
Posted by Residents get tricked
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2018 at 5:29 pm

M. Heath,

“Furthermore, in order to get council approval, the owners and their developer undertook a well funded, manipulative, deceptive and successful public relations campaign to persuade the public to turn out to support their plan. This culminated with a rally and bussing enough people in to fill the council chambers, using the logo "save JJ&F" as leverage for support for their proposed 60,000 square foot development. “

These circus tricks happen all the time, Palantir, etc. When the City or Council want something passed they make sure the bodies are there to justify their actions.

That gets covered by the press.

Stuff that the City and Council insiders don’t want covered get lost or a discussion happens at midnight.

These grocery store dramas are meantime one of many trick distractions and the hole keeps getting dug deeper and deeper with finances, gridlock in neighborhoods, and stuff one should not have to be “bussed” in to get taken care of.

Shame





15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2018 at 5:34 pm

I think this store was designed to fail along the lines of Margaret Heath's comment above.

This store never appeared to look like a store even in its signage or entrance without obvious shopping carts - in fact I think you could walk right by the entrance on the sidewalk and not notice it was a grocery store you were passing unless you were looking for it. I think this building is geared up to be a bank. It looks like a bank, feels like a bank and wants to act like a bank. I suspect that the owners expect it to be functioning as a bank office within the not too distant future.


12 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm



The excerpt below if from the 12/15/14 City Council Staff Report, Summary Title: College Terrace Market

Web Link

The new tenant will assume the lease with J&A Family Market, and pay monthly rent of $22,500 after the first six months of free or reduced rent, as well as expenses. The landlord has guaranteed the grocery store rent to the real estate lender for the term of the lease, and has agreed to pay a financial penalty of $2,000 per day if the grocery store goes out of business and is not replaced within six months.

Staff has met with Mr. Werness and Brian Spiers Development, and has reviewed the attached documents (Attachment B) regarding the proposed tenant and the proposed business arrangement between the property owner and the tenant.2 Staff believes the findings of comparability required by the PC Ordinance can be made based on Mr; Werness’ experience and financial backing. In addition, staff believes that the new proposal addresses the key concerns about prior proposals articulated by the Council and community, which related to the experience of the lease holder and the market’s long-term viability.

Mr. Werness is clearly an experienced market operator and his business entity 'The Grocery Men' will hold the lease and do business as 'College Terrace Market' Mr; Spiers’ request for approval of the grocery tenant directly addresses concerns that may be raised based on Mr. Werness’ personal bankruptcy related to his earlier grocery business in Palo Alto. The materials note that:

- Mr. Werness has partnered with two financial investors who have been independently vetted by Brian Spiers Development;

- The closure of the Alma Village market was due to several factors outside the control of
the owner/operator;

- The conditions of the College Terrace Market will allow the grocery to flourish;

- Mr. Werness has assembled more than $2,000,000 in new capital for the facility and grocery operating costs;

- The property owner has contributed multiple financial incentives, including: (1) three months free rent; (2) three months 1/2 rent; (3) Lease guarantees and (4) below market rent.

Also, Mr. Spiers and the ownership group have demonstrated their confidence in Mr. Werness by agreeing to a $2,000/day penalty, which shall be paid to the City in the event that the grocery goes out of business and is not replaced by a comparable tenant within six months. This financial penalty, which is essentially a voluntary condition of approval, is the subject of the proposed restrictive covenant.


47 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto is Ugly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2018 at 6:53 pm

The design and quality of almost all of the new commercial buildings in Palo Alto is a disgrace. The buildings are hideous. They are cheaply constructed and are too big for the lots they sit on. The developers don’t care about the quality of life for our residents. They just want to build the biggest building they can for the cheapest price. Much of the blame should be placed on the Architectural Review Board and the City Council, too. Let’s face it. Palo Alto is gone.


25 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 8:50 pm

Once again Ms. Heath provides context and history. Thank you to her.

Anyone else just plain weary of living in a city that has a City Manager, many management level staff, and a Council majority that does not put what's best for residents (you know, the people who either elect them or pay them) their top priority? I am.


14 people like this
Posted by Michael O.
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 2, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Margaret Heath and Don have pretty much got it right:

--Developer knowingly took a loss on 8000 sq ft of market to develop a large office space. (Why can't I run my life this way? *Sigh*)
--Market closing the day the rent goes up to $22.5k/month, four times the average monthly rent for the first 6 months.
--Will penalty of $2K/day actually be levied?
--We didn't need a market there, obviously, because if we did this one would not be closing.

But no one has mentioned Google Express, AmazonFresh, GoodEggs, Instacart, and other delivery services, for the failure of a new market. I shopped there multiple times just to be supportive, buying only the few things (mustard, pasta, a cabbage) that were reasonably priced. You can't pay $22.5K/month in rent + staffing costs to sell the occasional cabbage or pint of half-and-half.

Lots of seriously unserious comments about community failing the store, selling dal, putting parking on top of the Midtown Safeway. City Council comments from the community, by the way, come primarily from people whose Monday night entertainment comes from City Council comments from the community. (It's kinda cute, if you haven't been, in a Mayberry RFD sorta way, other than being more diverse.)


28 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Only fools believe the old JJ&F would have flourished in the new development.


2 people like this
Posted by ferdinand
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 2, 2018 at 9:55 pm

@ Gale and @38 year resident

Thanks for filling in some old memories Gale [I recall the name Duca and Hanley but where was it?].

38, being someone who mainly shops at the farmer's market/country sun with occasional forays to Costco [with a member friend], TJ's, and Piazzas I'm mainly interested in things that I want to make at home but am a bit busy to make myself as a parent and teacher. Yes, I like to dream about a perfect store--lot's of great bread, a beer tap-room, maybe someone's old dog wandering around? High quality breads are pretty expensive, and if a store could offer a diverse choice of products it could actually divide the space and reduce rent costs if it had to. One can dream....


34 people like this
Posted by Straight Guy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:14 pm

City should fire the Planner overseeing the development. Enough said.


6 people like this
Posted by Pat
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:24 pm

Does anyone miss the old futon shop that was in the old development? I do!


22 people like this
Posted by Malcolm
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 11:02 pm

Malcolm is a registered user.

The developer of the College Terrace Building was able to build a overly large building in exchange for a grocery store.

There was already a successful store at that address until the developer kicked them out. Now that they have let their new grocery store fail, they are not holding up their end of the bargain.

The city should padlock the entire building until the developer holds up their end of the bargain.

There is no reason that a grocery store can't be successful at that location. If it is not, then perhaps they need to lower the rent. Even a negative rent. They are reaping the benefit of the oversize building, and taking advantage of the neighborhood.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2018 at 11:06 pm

Someone made an excellent suggestion about reopening it as an alternative Asian supermarket like Ranch 99. There are already several traditional supermarkets in Palo Alto. There are a couple of thriving Asian supermarkets in Mountain View, Cupertino and Sunnyvale. There is nothing similar in Palo Alto, and I don't think even in MP or RWC.


16 people like this
Posted by Another Guy
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 2, 2018 at 11:34 pm

Has the city ever fired staff for incompetence? Does the union even allow that?

Not that providing any kind of benefits to developers under any circumstances would ever be seen as incompetence by our city management...


24 people like this
Posted by concerned neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2018 at 11:45 pm

The City has to accept some blame for the market's failure by allowing the excessive signage for the bank, leaving no place for a proper sign for the market and by allowing a coffee and lunch concession in the bank's offices. That was very short sighted. And indeed, parking is an issue. Poor architectural design. Too bad, a market is needed there. International foods, a good idea.


9 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jan 3, 2018 at 12:30 am

Anybody who is surprised hasn’t been paying attention.

Palo Alto already has a lot of grocery .stores. Trying to force feed more high-end stores will not work.

Since when are residents allowed to dictate that grocery stores be built.

Three strikes and you are out.

Residents, please get over your retail fantasies and join the 21st century.


8 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jan 3, 2018 at 12:33 am

Ken,

There are 2 large Safeways on the borders of Palo Alto. PA missed the boat on attracting a large Safeway a long time ago.

PA would have a better chance of attracting a large Asian market.


5 people like this
Posted by Pat
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2018 at 6:23 am

@Malcom,

A wise persin once said- "Only fools believe the old JJ&F would have flourished in the new development."


19 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2018 at 6:51 am

Lest anyone labor under the misconception that providing a community benefit was a sincere intention of Smailey et al, remember that one of the early offerings for community benefit was a butterfly park.

We've got a HUGE housing problem.
We've got a HUGE traffic problem.
We've got a HUGE parking problem.

And a developer suggests BUTTERFLIES??!!


14 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2018 at 10:44 am

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace:

>> Lest anyone labor under the misconception that providing a community benefit was a sincere intention of Smailey et al, remember that one of the early offerings for community benefit was a butterfly park.

In all honesty, butterflies are in trouble, and, Palo Alto certainly needs another butterfly park more than it needs more office space and the inevitable increase in traffic.

Every (re)development should be required to have retail space, with an enforced legal agreement that the retail space can't be used as office space.
That retail restriction should -assume- that the retail space will be subsidized, so that the developer can't come back and complain that nobody will rent the space at "cost".

Office space is choking out every other business of value to the residents who actually live here.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2018 at 10:48 am

I don't think you can insist on "retail" unless retail is well defined.

Is a dentist not as valuable as a hair salon as valuable as a liquor store as valuable as a tutoring service as valuable as a drugstore to those who use them?


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2018 at 11:48 am

Resident, I'm glad you asked. :-)

I think that the restriction should be that it be a "public accommodation" as defined by various laws, minus "inns, hotels, and motels" or other lodging.

Web Link

That would include most of the following:

"Restaurants and bars
Theaters and stadiums
Bakery, grocery store, clothing stores, and any sales or rental establishment
Laundromats, dry-cleaners, and banks
Accountants and lawyers' offices
Museums, libraries, and zoos"

OK, maybe not zoos. ;-)


13 people like this
Posted by Hot Karl
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2018 at 11:50 am

@Resident,

"Retail" is well defined by code. Look it up.


8 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 3, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@ ferdinand

I credit another poster for locating Duca and Hanley at the current location of CVS pharmacy. You must be an old timer too. Good for you and for all of us who can remember Palo Alto, the way it was, in better times. They're gone forever, but we have our memories of them. Let's just hang on to those!

I love butterflies also. We had them, lots of them, and my twin sons made nets and had a lot of fun catching them. We also had toads and garter snakes in our back yard. But that was when there was an open field, grassland, between our house and Bayshore Freeway...101. That was a long time ago.

Today's problems, for our city staff and CC to consider and deal with, are a lot different from those we had years ago. Well, some are the same, but many and most, are different.

There was never, or little, talk about 'saving retail', 'parking'...(well okay, meters or no meters), 'affordable housing', 'traffic congestion', et al. Yes, there were big issues...the Oregon Expressway was one of them. But, for the most part, we were still a small college town. That has changed. I use that term, like others do, but in reality Stanford was always more than a college...it had university status from it's beginning, I think. And it grew and grew, and expanded it's properties and buildings. That has caused, and still causes, problems between the University and Palo Alto. They, thankfully, have always been worked out amicably before. The future of that relationship might not be so rosy.


25 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 3, 2018 at 2:15 pm

I agree that the property owner should be required to lower/ eliminate the rent to help the grocer remain as it is a requirement ( in the PC ordinance) that the project have an operating, full service grocery store.

The PC ordinance also prohibited any medical uses on the project yet the city has allowed a retail tenant, Laser Away, to occupy part of the retail space. Laser Away offers aesthetic dermatology procedures that are required by state law to be overseen by doctors and administered by medically licensed professionals!

The PC ordinance required approximately 40 street trees...there are about half of that.

The PC ordinance required landscaping around the project, some which is missing, much of which is not maintained and is dying.

The PC required that the project have proper storage area for all the tenants to store their trash yet from the beginning the Grocery store was not allowed to use the trash room, instead they store all their dumpsters all the time on Oxford street, taking up parking and contributing to an unsanitary situation.

The building was allowed to put lights in on the rooftop garden that shine light in all directions, instead of the requirement that commercial projects have safety lighting that points downward to assist in safe movement around the project in the dark, but does not escape into nearby residential areas.

Although not a requirement of the PC ordinance, there was a general understanding that the outdoor garden area on the corner of Staunton and Oxford would be open to the public and the folks living in the adjacent Below market rate residential units and would have tables, chairs, umbrellas etc...... it has been locked every single day since the building opened. No-one is allowed to use it at all.

This is is an example of total failure of planning and enforcement by the city who should correct these problems immediately, starting with requiring the property owners to lower or eliminate the rent so that the grocers may continue operation.
Anything short of taking steps to correct the problems will rightfully be seen by residents as willful opposition to enforce the legal requirements and moral obligations to the people of Palo Alto.


5 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 3, 2018 at 2:50 pm

anon wrote:

> I agree that the property owner should be required to lower/ eliminate the rent to help the grocer remain as it is a requirement ( in the PC ordinance) that the project have an operating, full service grocery store.

The property owner *did* lower / eliminate the rent (3 months at 1/2 rent, 3 months free). And, the full-cost rental rate was very attractive, at just over $3 a square foot. Despite all of that, the store failed.


2 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2018 at 2:51 pm

It is a a sad day for us.
I was the first customer on June 13/14 6:55am.
Ron is great manager and his team members are experienced and well know from Southbay.

Lessons to be learned. Some reflections.:

1. College Terrance residents are smart shoppers. 15-25% more for items made it unattractive.

2. Chicken salad was priced at$12.99/lb which made it expensive.

3. However, Italian drip coffee was $1.75 with my own cup. The hostess Jeannie was very gracious after I knew her.

4. Ideas. Zareen’s on California Avenue is running 129% capacity. Could we bring them here?

5. The Edgewood MARKET store could have their second store there.

6. A 7/11?

7. Target express store m?

8. Stanford Cafe!


Respectfully


2 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 3, 2018 at 3:05 pm


Sea Reddy wrote:

> 4. Ideas. Zareen’s on California Avenue is running 129% capacity. Could we bring them here?

Even a restaurant as good as Zareen's would likely fail in the College Terrace complex.

And by 'bring them here' do you mean you'd like someone else to foot the bill for the half million dollar restaurant build-out cost and the complicated and lengthy permitting process?

> 5. The Edgewood MARKET store could have their second store there.

A different, even slightly better market wouldn't solve the basic problem: it's not a good location, for anyone.

If I were looking for a location for an 8,000 square foot store, grocery or otherwise, I certainly wouldn't choose a space formerly occupied by grocery that failed in only 6 months.


15 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2018 at 3:47 pm

It will be very difficult to find a grocer to want this space.

Here is some relevant history.

1. History at CT: The space was originally for JJ&F and that was the ticket to getting the PC designation for the developer. When JJ&F went out of business, the developer scrambled to find a grocer. The City suspended the building permit, leaving the developer with an empty piece of ground.
a. The developer stated that he had contacted all grocers and no one was interested.
b. The developer tried to put up his own son as the grocer. The son had no experience in the grocery business, and the City rejected this idea.
c. A standoff developed with the lawyers for the developer threatening litigation against the City. They wanted their zoning override, period.
d. Then a new person came in with a change in attitude and brought Miki Werness into the picture.
e. The City approved the plan after some review and the building permit was reactivated.

2. The developer used a grocery store as the ticket to obtaining his PC. He built 10 houses and sold them for $30M based on the PC. He brought in the Fresh Market, which was nice but had a modest selection and high prices. It may have been making money.
a. When the Fresh Market left CA in 2015, the developer claimed that he had contacted over 70 grocers (he published a list) trying to find someone.
b. In the fall of 2015, the City started its fines, first $500/day and later $1000/day. This was not enough to get the developer to find a new grocer since he still had rents from Fresh Market.
c. In the fall of 2016, the City increased the rents to $5000/day. This tipped over his spreadsheet to the point that we got a new grocer. It is a family firm from San Mateo, and this is their first full-service store.
d. The developer sued the City and recently run a ruling, basically stating that the City had made a huge mistake in its paperwork and doesn't owe the fines. This is ongoing.

My conclusions from this history:
1. It was very difficult for the developer to find a grocer for the CT market, and basically had to pay someone to do it (Miki).
2. It was also very difficult for the EW developer to find a new grocer and had to pay someone to do it (the family).
3. EW is a much better location. It is 20,000 sqft (compared to 8000 sqft) and it has far less nearby competition. Given the difficulty of finding someone for EW, how can we expect success for CT?
4. It will be extremely difficult to replace the CT grocer. We can expect all manner of objections, lawsuits, games, etc., from the CT developer, based on his previous actions and the actions of the EW developer.
5. We are now stuck with a huge building the architectural merits of which are not highly regarded (to say the least), and with very doubtful community benefits.
6. I suspect the City is tired of this and would prefer for the problem to go away (even though it is the City's problem).

This is a lousy location for a store and should never have been the basis for a PC. I do strongly believe that we should pressure the city into requiring compliance from the CT developer (as well as the EW developer).


14 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2018 at 4:25 pm

In response to several comments, in order of posting.

@margaret heath - #factcheck, EXTERIOR SIGNAGE: The building owners and property manager had nothing to do with the grocers exterior signage. In fact, additional exterior signage was approved that the grocer chose not to install. How much marketing and outreach did the store owners actually do before opening? Did they think, "build it and they will come"? SIGN FOR GARAGE: There is a parking sign that reads "PARKING" above the garage ramp. Would yo like to see a big flashing arrow similar to one in Las Vegas? I can only image the backlash from the community if that was installed. MARKET REFUSE AREA: The grocers lease can be found online with the City approval where you can read and also see that the grocers refuse area is in their loading dock within their leased premises. Again, the grocers fault for poor use of their space. DATE THE MARKET OPENED: Again, read the Lease online. The grocer did not incur any unnecessary costs while the building was under construction.

@anon (evergreen park) - STORAGE: all tenants have been provided proper storage. The PC Ordinance approval of the grocer includes their Lease which shows the grocers refuse area is inside of their loading dock. ROOFTOP LIGHTS: The building lights on the rooftop garden were required by the City. OUTDOOR GARDEN AREA: The is unlocked. I've had my lunch in the garden.

@Don - Amen! you seem to understand economics. According to the lease, the grocer received free rent for 3/months and 1/2 rent for 3/months at just over $3/square foot. That's one hell of a bargain and despite that the store failed.





8 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 3, 2018 at 4:40 pm

Mary wrote:

> According to the lease, the grocer received free rent for 3/months and 1/2 rent for 3/months at just over $3/square foot. That's one hell of a bargain and despite that the store failed.

And unless it's changed recently, the rate for the other ground floor retail space is $6.40 (with included NNN expenses).


4 people like this
Posted by Damien
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 3, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Glad to see central planning by nimbys has failed once again, as it is always destined to. The invisible hand of the free market is the *only* way of efficiently allocating scarce resources. Every 'building permit' is another cynical attempt recreate the failed policies of USSR central planning: to stop property owners from efficiently using their justly owned property. I hope the California State Legislature can step in and permanently ban all municipal interference that panders to the elites, which will alleviate the artificially created parking and housing shortage created by entrenched interests.


20 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 3, 2018 at 7:48 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

@Mary
When I looked at the ordinance approved by the city council (page 6 (i) "Sufficient ancillary functions are provided to support the main functions of the project in that the proposal includes a large trash storage area, ..."

My understanding of the code is that food refuse is not allowed in the same area where fresh food and groceries are being unloaded. Unfortunately I no longer have my copy of the lease that was included with the council package. However, during the many Planning and Transport Commission and Council presentations by the developer, all of which I attended, my recollection is that when the onsite food preparation aspect of the market was described the market's refuse was to be accommodated in the general trash storage area of the building. Away from any contact with food in the loading dock. If the lease approved by the city specifically stated food refuse was to be in the loading dock where fresh food is being unloaded, that may have been a serious oversight by the city staff who vetted it.

If there is a sign for the underground parking that alerts drivers ahead of time that they are approaching the entrance to the market's parking, was that recent? Neon lights, of course not. Just a simple sign that parking for the market is available in the underground garage and that the entrance is coming up. Otherwise it is almost invisible from the street.

Your version of the problem with exterior signage is not the same one that I heard from the people at the market. When I asked on various occasions why they had no sign on the building adjacent to the entrance for street level visibility, they appeared to me to be very frustrated at the go around and lack of cooperation getting permission to do so. Please describe the exterior sign, and it's proposed location, refused by the market's operators?

Those oversized rooftop light globes were proposed by the architect as being part of the overall design. However, if rooftop lighting for the garden was required, it certainly didn't have to be large globes that light up the entire neighborhood behind it. As I recall, when the architect's plans were under review by the city, at least one neighbor objected to their size because of the effect on nearby residences but was ignored.

Do you know for sure that the leaseholders of the market didn't have to postpone their expected opening for an extended period due to construction delays by the property developer?

Now that the market is closing, what do you think are the chances that Patrick Smailey, the original developer and property manager, will be able to implement his original plan of installing his son, James, as the operator of the market? Mr. Smailey appeared to be extremely frustrated and angry when the council turned down his original proposal for James to operate the market. At this point, even with his lack of experience, I doubt that city staff or the council will object. With the initial costs of outfitting the market absorbed by the current market operators, perhaps the fittings can be bought at a knockdown price? Even if the market doesn't make a profit, perhaps it can break even and provide a salaried job for James?

Finally, congratulations on finding the corner park unlocked. Many of us have commented that everytime we try the gate it is locked, and there's no sign saying what hours it is open. When and what time of day did you find it unlocked? Many of us would also like to stop by there to eat a sandwich.


10 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 3, 2018 at 7:56 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

@ Damien, a resident of Stanford

If you live on the Stanford campus then you are completely protected from the effects of large commercial developments adjacent to your home. Or are you a student who aspires to live in a large city and enjoys the hustle and bustle of living proximity to commerce?


18 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 3, 2018 at 7:57 pm

Right you are Ms.Heath!!!

It is also a very good time for the city to make public the TDM ( transportation Demand Management ) plan for the project and to report on how it is either working or failing.

TDM's are required for under parked buildings, to ensure alternate transportation modes are being sucessfully used.


8 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2018 at 10:48 pm

"College Terrace Market announced its plans to close the long-awaited community grocery store in Palo Alto six months after opening"... and a week after a judge ruled against the city's fines levied against Sand Hill Property Company for violating its agreement with the city to maintain an operational grocery store at Edgewood Plaza.

"Judge rules against city on Edgewood fines" Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2018 at 10:26 am

Posted by Ahem; a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood:

>> "College Terrace Market announced its plans to close the long-awaited community grocery store in Palo Alto six months after opening"...

It sounds to me like Palo Alto should have a moratorium on all non-residential developments of any kind until this can get straightened out. If the city can't enforce these agreements, it would be better to wait until we figure out how to do this legally so that it will stand up in court. Apparently we don't know how to do that.


10 people like this
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Doen't the city have some kind of requirement that grocery stores be no larger than the small grocery stores everyone now complains about? I had hoped for a large Safeway or Lucky market at Edgewood Plaza, but was told that could not happen due to city regulations. Instead, the developer made tons of money from the ten cramped, shoddily built houses and gave the community (a portion of which, granted, lobbied to keep the ugly Eichler buildings) another small grocery store.
I like the so-called Brutalist building now being demolished on El Camino. I find it infinitely more attractive than the hideous, doodady buildings now being foisted on us,such as the one College Terrace Market is in.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 4, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Sandy

I think you meant 'does' instead of 'doesn't', but it's not a big deal...I got your point. I knew many of the BoA people at that 'Brutalist' building. You nailed it with your description of doodady buildings. I could be an architect and design one of these new, all steel and glass, square, modernistic structures. I could throw my 'french curve' drafting tool away. A barely passing grade and an architecture student could design one of those. Birge Clark must be turning over in his grave.

I'm hoping for the best, and success for the new Market at Edgewood Plaza. I'll try it out. It all boils down to very simple facts. What do they offer that is special? Do they offer same things at lower prices? better quality? All the needs of grocery shoppers, one stop shopping? If they fall short on any of those, then I'm not optimistic about their future and survival. Will the neighbors shop there, instead of Safeway, Molly Stone's, Piazza's, or Costco? The support and base has to come from the local folks living in the neighborhood. Very unlikely it will become a destination grocery store for out of town shoppers.

Now, back to a failed market, and replaced by one that is reportedly having great success and good reviews! Miki's had a good variety of high quality offerings, with matching prices, and they only lasted 6 months. Now, Grocery Outlets, seems to be having great success in the same location. Why is that? I've shopped there a few times. I read the reviews, so that is just a little bit of my knowledge. You can't argue with their prices. On the other hand, they have limited items, most of them with labels showing near 'expiration', 'sell by' or 'use by' dates on them, and most of those dates are near. Quality and presentation of produce is not the best, maybe a C+, so what is the attraction? Well, just my free (two bits worth) analysis and advice...there are a lot of people living in PA who are very budget conscious and eking out a living just to pay rent and live here. For them, Grocery Outlets is the place to shop. And the home owners there get the benefit of one of our ventures into PC's (Planned Communities). How convenient. Just walk a couple hundred feet to your grocery store.

CC, don't try so hard to get big developments approved by offering bait like markets. There are many of us astute voters out here. We are smarter than you think we are.


12 people like this
Posted by Albert
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 4, 2018 at 4:23 pm

The situations here, and at Edgewood Market, are similar, insofar as our development-friendly City Council writes and approves contracts which favor developers.

The situations are different, however, insofar as the Edgewood Market *should* succeed.

Reasons:
1) Fresh Market in this location succeeded. It made money. People shopped there, and not just for this-and-that. The reason for leaving had to do with corporate HQ location, and that their Edgewood Market was too distant and isolated from the remainder of the corporate distribution and infrastructure.
2) The Market at Edgewood is run by a young but savvy Bulgarian-American couple. If you haven't met them, you should. They already are expert in fruits and vegetables, and it shows: the quality and quantity are excellent, and the prices are good. They are applying technology to understand the business conditions in their new location, and to expand upon and diversify their previous business expertise in food markets. The meat and fish counters are relatively new to them. But the quality and quantity so far are outstanding, the staff is helpful and outgoing, and the prices are a bit better than Whole Foods, in some instances quite a bit better (especially for meats; fish these days is expensive everywhere, it seems). The deli counter is similar to that which Fresh Market designed and deployed. The bakery is not focused on breads as previously, but on good-looking and high-value (high-margin) specialty baked goods -- not everyday items necessarily, but worth a look if you have a special occasion. They have dispensed with the large square footage devoted to candies and sweets, instead expanding the fruits and vegetables area.
3) This market is, so far, vastly much better than Safeway. If you shop at Safeway in Midtown because you can walk or bike there, I understand. But if you're already driving to shop for groceries, please consider coming to the Market at Edgewood. (Personally, I can't stand large, corporate stores; and, the politics of Safeway's leadership leaves me cold, as does their relationship with staff. But that's just me; your mileage may differ, as they say.)

I will continue to shop for some things at TJ's. But our shopping has shifted, and will continue to shift, to this market. It is close, it is great quality, and it feels quite personal from an ownership and staff perspective. Shopping there gives them a chance to sustain and expand. And that's important for our community.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2018 at 4:46 pm

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.


14 people like this
Posted by The Boot
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2018 at 2:11 am

There is no question that The Edgewood Market is at risk. The City Attorney and City Manager failed to create an airtight PC. Of course, Sand Hill sniffed out loopholes in that PC and pounced. Molly Stump and Jim Keene need to be fired. They have failed us residents and made us a pawn in the pro-Developer culture of City Hall.


12 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2018 at 9:51 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Several calls in this thread for investigating the possibility of an Asian grocery. Has this been explored? Asians and non-Asians who look for a nearby store that carries what they want but don’t see in the current mix may be drawn to shop here and use this as a base for social contact and information.

Look to the future, not the past. How many failures are we willing to risk when there’s an underserved customer base in the community that could be successfully cultivated by an experienced Asian grocery operator?


15 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 10:11 am

@Mary

The grocer's lease included in the approval's shows a floor plan with the grocer's refuse inside of their loading dock. The grocer's loading dock is typically open or the door is partially up. When I've walked by the loading dock and looked inside, it appears the grocer turned the loading dock into walk-in cooler space.

Grocers exterior signage- If memory serves me correctly, the building drawings approved by the City include exterior sign placeholders for the grocery store including signs along El Camino. All building owners want tenant's to succeed. The City's sign code is very clear and the code requires building owners to sign the tenants permit application. The code determines the size and location of signs. The code and the PC allow for retail signage, in this case along El Camino. Why didn't the grocer install signs along El Camino that would have provided them the best visibility

Rooftop lighting- can't blame the developer or building owner. They installed what was required.

About the leaseholder of the market postponing due to construction- Anchor tenants that sign leases before construction is complete are at the mercy of the building construction timeline. That is unless the lease included a clause that the building to be complete by a specific date. Heck, I recall seeing an "opening soon" sign for the grocery store on the construction fence. Beside, how come the grocer didn't maximize their marketing and community outreach efforts during the time? I never once saw an ad in any paper or social media forum.

With the market closing, I believe the chances are low for Patrick Smailey to implement installing his son as the operator. Remember, the City rejected them twice as the operator, plus they have no experience operating a grocery store. Kudos to the City for rejecting their shenanigans, twice.

Corner Park- I've typically found it to be open during the daytime.






5 people like this
Posted by Jeff Cashdollar
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2018 at 11:26 am

I was so excited when CTM opened up, but quickly felt that it wasn't going to last. The store was too small, too dark and they lost some of their best staff members, which was a draw to the store for some of us. I do not like to be happy that they are closing, but they deserved it. Once they lost their in-house baker, I didn't return to the store....there was no reason to go. The Market at Edgewood seems to be doing so much better. I have been in the store weekly, and there are always people shopping in the store (something rarely seen at CTM). Plus they have the great in-house baker that left CTM. The Market at Edgewood is a bright, beautiful store, great produce selection, great meat/deli and my favorite bakery department. Those complaining about high prices...we live in the bay area, prices are high wherever you go...unless you go to WalMart Market, which is fine, but you will not find high quality products, or in-house baked goods. Well gotta go, heading over to the Market at Edgewood to pick up a in-house made cake and some in-house made chicken salad.


7 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Mary,

The lease may have indicated that there was storage for non-food refuse in the loading dock, cardboard for instance, but if food refuse is not allowed by code then wasn't the general onsite trash area intended for that? I'm sure that use of the general trash area by the market was indicated during the architect's various presentations of the plans.

Why did the property manager/property owner allow First Republic to pre-empte the space on the side of the building where a market sign should be? I'm still curious about the exterior signage you told us the market operator turned down?

The public might think that on the face of it obvious the property manager/property owner would want a grocery store to succeed. But given the long and winding, often opaque, history of this PC, I'm not sure we can make that assumption. Before any redevelopment plans were made public, the property owners had filed a lawsuit against JJ&F which would have resulted in an eviction if the JJ&F owners hadn't settled. Which included the usual no-comment clause so the Garcias' hands were tied after that. So only the few people that the Garcias had already consulted or spoken to before the settlement were aware. Behind the scenes, despite what the public was being told, JJF was quietly being forced out of business. Why would any developer actually want a grocery store, an industry that operates on such thin margins they can only afford low rents? That is, until it becomes clear that using JJ&F as leverage was the ticket to getting the zoning override from approximately 13,000 square foot as zoned to 40,000 square foot of first class corporate office space. Hence, the public were told they could "save JJ&F" if they got behind the request for the zoning override.

Do we know that the owners don't plan to eventually challenge the grocery store requirement as not viable? Perhaps hoping for a future sympathetic pro growth council? Even if they don't ask for conversion to office, there are many other more profitable retail uses, including a restaurant since the kitchen is already equipped with the expensive to retrofit grease trap.

Yes, lights were required for the rooftop garden. But code did not "require" the installation of large globe lights that are so high and bright as to cause light pollution for the nearby neighbors. And my friends and I will try visiting the garden plaza again.


13 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2018 at 5:24 pm

@margaret heath

I believe the code you are referring to is Health Department code which would be different and independent of building code. If the loading dock was originally designed and designated as a loading dock, the only use would be for trucks backing into the loading dock and for all of the grocers trash. There would be sharing of the space with food preparation.

I re-read the Palo Alto Sign Code. The code appears that First Republics signs are code compliant since they are outside of their lease space. Your question would be best suited for the City, not the building owner / developer.

A grocery store like CTM is a good amenity to any development and community as long as it is supported. It sounds like you understand that the grocery industry operates on small margins which a good developer, the second developer at CT, understood by giving the grocery store a low rent. You raise a good point about the public perception... The community and public only remember the mishaps of the original (first) developer. How can the community look forward, past the first developer and focus on the present & future?

Your idea about a restaurant is a good suggestion if the developer, building owner challenge the City. Not sure what a grease trap is but it sounds like you have experience retrofitting one. Does the grocer have a grease trap? Ultimately, the City would need to determine if a grocery store is not viable in today's market place and allow another use of the space.

The City approved the rooftop lighting. How else would the light have been installed? While code did not "require" the installation of large lights, code does require that the lights comply with code.



3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 5, 2018 at 9:52 pm

Geez, who ever thought the tone-deaf guy who put in Miki's market would be competent to open a successful store? Miki's also closed within 6 months. And it wasn't for lack of community desire for a small place to walk to for staples, as well as impulse buys. Grocery outlet is steadily doing an increasing business. We walk there a couple of times a week.


3 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2018 at 1:55 am

I am not suggesting a restaurant, just that the property owner might. When the details of the grocery store were being discussed by the council there was talk about the grease trap being included to demonstrate the grocery tenant would be able to cook food, as JJ&F had done.

The health code has to be met when a building is to be used for food preparation, which is why it appears that the planning department may have dropped the ball when they approved the lease.

Still doesn't explain why a space for the grocery market signage was not set aside, especially given the number of First Republic signs plastering the building. Unfortunately, each of their signs in itself is not so large as to violate the Palo Alto's sign ordinance, although certainly violates the spirit of the ordinance.

The lighting was definitely approved over neighbors objections about their the impact since such very prominent and large lights that were not necessary. I remember that discussion because for all Palo Alto touting it's "green credentials" artificial light pollution is having a huge and disorienting impact on the migratory patterns of birds.


17 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 7, 2018 at 9:11 pm

@margaret heath

Question still remains - You raise a good point about the public perception... The community and public only remember the mishaps of the original (first) developer. How can the community look forward, past the first developer and focus on the present & future?


9 people like this
Posted by No brainer
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2018 at 12:29 pm

It’s not the people’s fault. It was too expensive and it promisedtrader joes prices and good quality, local food. Do you think students have money to burn on over priced food? Most renters and home owners are trying to save money on food.


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Posted by Noduh
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 31, 2018 at 3:07 pm

I've lived here my entire life in college Terrace. JJF was probably the best market on the block until it was closed. But then they said there was a new market opening soon. I had hope but that hope was lost when I first walked into the new college Terrace market. It sucked and really expensive. Like $3 for a box of Pocky sticks? Hell nah. Thank God it's gone but now I gotta bike 15 blocks down to molie stones.


3 people like this
Posted by Put in a Felipe's
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 31, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Better and cheaper

What we really need is a Felipe's fruit stand like the one in Sunnyvale. It's a tiny store but they have the best produce - including hard to find fresh international ingredients. They also have international staples, cheese and gourmet products. The checkers are lickity split fast even if most items need to be weighed. And about half as expensive or more than our local shops.

Web Link


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Posted by Captain Critic
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 1, 2018 at 8:11 pm

@noduh Pocky Sticks are u healthy. College Terrace Market was doing you a favor selling Pocky Sticks for $3 a bock and your bike 15 blocks is probably good thing, for you.


2 people like this
Posted by Connect the dots
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2018 at 3:43 am

Of course, why else contract with the same people that launched Miki's, sure failure (store had similar feel) and now it can host a fake retail office - like the lawyer's office, um, I mean law bookstore on University Avenue.


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

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