News

Avalon Yoga International closes after nearly 40 years on Cal. Ave.

Owner: Cost of extended lease was too high

Avalon Yoga International at 370 California Ave. has closed after nearly 40 years in business. Embarcadero Media file photo.

A nearly 40-year-old yoga studio on California Avenue has closed due to the rising cost of a new lease, leaving yet another vacant space in the business district. Avalon Yoga International, which was located at 370 California Ave., was popular for its variety of yoga classes that attracted students and instructors alike.

Barbara Wilcox, a yoga instructor who practiced at Avalon, said she was stunned when the studio canceled her class on Feb. 11 and then closed. She also found the website had been taken down.

"It's devastating for Palo Alto. Now, more than at any other time, we need businesses that support health and Avalon Yoga has been doing that for about 40 years," she said.

She credited the yoga studio with offering quality teachers and many varieties of yoga, she said.

"It's brutal that this should happen just as mandates (for COVID-19) are lifting. It's a legacy business," she said.

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Owner Steve Farmer drew people from all walks of life, Wilcox said. He hired only the best teachers and his prices were fair.

"He's trained hundreds of teachers. I hope he can reopen elsewhere. He does have loyal customers who support him," she said.

Farmer declined to comment beyond saying that the cost of an extended lease was too high and the future of California Avenue has gotten worse.

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Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Avalon Yoga International closes after nearly 40 years on Cal. Ave.

Owner: Cost of extended lease was too high

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 9:08 am

A nearly 40-year-old yoga studio on California Avenue has closed due to the rising cost of a new lease, leaving yet another vacant space in the business district. Avalon Yoga International, which was located at 370 California Ave., was popular for its variety of yoga classes that attracted students and instructors alike.

Barbara Wilcox, a yoga instructor who practiced at Avalon, said she was stunned when the studio canceled her class on Feb. 11 and then closed. She also found the website had been taken down.

"It's devastating for Palo Alto. Now, more than at any other time, we need businesses that support health and Avalon Yoga has been doing that for about 40 years," she said.

She credited the yoga studio with offering quality teachers and many varieties of yoga, she said.

"It's brutal that this should happen just as mandates (for COVID-19) are lifting. It's a legacy business," she said.

Owner Steve Farmer drew people from all walks of life, Wilcox said. He hired only the best teachers and his prices were fair.

"He's trained hundreds of teachers. I hope he can reopen elsewhere. He does have loyal customers who support him," she said.

Farmer declined to comment beyond saying that the cost of an extended lease was too high and the future of California Avenue has gotten worse.

Comments

CalAveLocal
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Feb 18, 2022 at 1:33 pm
CalAveLocal, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 1:33 pm

Absolutely devastating loss for our community.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2022 at 5:47 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 5:47 pm

Previous councils have, at the behest of commercial retail property owners, expanded the list of non-retail businesses that they can rent to. Which has had the predictable effect of encouraging commercial retail property owners to raise rents to levels traditional retail cannot support in addition to having to compete with the prominent online retailers. Which also has the unfortunate effect of continuing eroding our traditional core retail zones which depend on critical mass to be viable.

A few years ago council broadened the list of allowable “non retail” businesses that could replace retail and then council member Liz Kniss advocated for allowing exercise studios/gyms be added. There is a certain irony that the Avalon Yoga studio may have fallen victim of this wider list of more profitable uses.







Evergreen Park Observer
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Feb 18, 2022 at 11:00 pm
Evergreen Park Observer, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 11:00 pm

This is a huge loss for Cal Ave and for the local community. Avalon was a jewel in itself, but it also brought a lot of people to Cal Ave. all during the week.

One has to wonder why a property owner is raising the price of the lease. Not exactly a huge demand for space along Cal Ave right now. Must be that the property owner has his/her eye on pressuring the Council to allow for more lucrative types of businesses on the street, e.g., medical and dental offices, etc. Or, perhaps yet another restaurant that can expand space out into the street for free? Forcing out yet another tenant as was done with the Palo Alto Bakery shows that property owners in Palo Alto have no interest in making Cal Ave a diverse shopping and dining area. Property owners want the City to fund all of the improvements to the street while they rake in all the profits. I don't know how Los Altos and Menlo Park get better cooperation out of their property owners, but maybe we should find out. I'm pretty sick of the behavior of the old-time property owners of Palo Alto who think the City should serve them rather than they serve the City. Sad.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 19, 2022 at 4:11 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Perhaps the Avalon Yoga space will become another restaurant to add to the conversion of Cal Ave conversion into a food court at the expense of retail.

Unlike the other individual training gyms that replaced retail a few years ago, Avalon Yoga brought plenty of foot traffic to Cal Ave as well as having a retail component which I sometimes patronized along with attractive window displays adding to the pedestrian shopping experience even when closed.


MyFeelz
Registered user
another community
on Feb 19, 2022 at 9:36 pm
MyFeelz, another community
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2022 at 9:36 pm

mjh, you took the words right out of my mouth. Let all of the food purveyors move to that inaccessible street, and let everyone else move elsewhere. Then, people (including disabled people) who need to buy retail items can buy them at more accessible stores and avoid the urban food (as it is loosely defined, by being served on asphalt) scene. I'm sad that another retailer has bailed out of CalAve but I think it's really for the best. Give CalAve more of what the people want. Nobody cares about amenities like walls, heating and air conditioning, accessible bathrooms and flooring that isn't covered with 50 year old bubble gum. And let's bring back smoking in restaurants if they're all going to be outdoors. I think there is no law against smoking outdoors. It won't bother me, because I wouldn't eat there if you paid me.


Steve O
Registered user
Mountain View
on Feb 21, 2022 at 3:41 pm
Steve O, Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2022 at 3:41 pm

Well let all the people who think keeping California Ave closed to traffic is such a wonderful idea. There is already 15+ empty store fronts on the street with most likely more to come. So enjoy your empty, mostly vacated street with no retail businesses but hey it reminds you all of Europe.
Please consider that this street closure is affecting the livelihood of small business owners, employees and their families. When they small businesses do leave, they won't be coming back


cheese guy
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Feb 21, 2022 at 6:05 pm
cheese guy, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2022 at 6:05 pm

MyFeelz- I am not quite sure what your comment has to do with the story or about California Ave for that matter. This is a Palo Alto problem, the rents on retail are extremely high and small retail businesses struggle, especially when faced with rapidly elevated rents. What restaurants, eating outdoors, outdoor smoking, or disability access has to do with it is not clear. How "it's for the best" that a longstanding retail business is forced to close due to a landlord raising the rents seems a bit insensitive to the business owners, customers, and hope for a diverse set of businesses on California Ave.


CalAveLocal
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Feb 22, 2022 at 10:57 am
CalAveLocal, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2022 at 10:57 am

Avalon closing has nothing to do with the street being closed for traffic and everything to do with astronomical rent hikes. Avalon has been a Palo Alto institution for 40 years; it was not a "drive by and oh, here is a yoga studio I want to go to" place. For instance, there is no parking in front of the place, one has to park in the back or a parallel street or what not.


Jon Keeling
Registered user
Community Center
on Feb 22, 2022 at 1:27 pm
Jon Keeling, Community Center
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2022 at 1:27 pm

My favorite Yoga place! I hope Avalon's wonderful owner Steve and many of his fabulous teachers find a new home in the area that doesn't cost them as much. As a Karate instructor who leases a space in Palo Alto, I can definitely sympathize with their struggle to keep everyone happy as costs rise.


Steve O
Registered user
Mountain View
on Feb 22, 2022 at 3:37 pm
Steve O, Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2022 at 3:37 pm

I'm sorry but it does have to do with the street closure. It is another obstacle that the small retail businesses are dealing with. The owner of Avalon even said he was worried about the future of California Ave. The closure only benefits a few restaurants, that's all. High rents are something that has been an issue in Palo Alto for many years. It is selfish to assume that the street closure is wonderful because you like it without consequences. Before thinking that you know better maybe talk to the businesses that have been negatively impacted by the closure, it's not all sh*ts and giggles


Citizen
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2022 at 4:58 am
Citizen, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2022 at 4:58 am

The solution is simple and yet will take iron resolve.

@Evergreen Los Altos has a community foundation that bought up a lot of the downtown and thus stabilized rent, didn’t it? This allows a diversity of businesses for residents.

That really is the only answer. This has always been a high cost area subject to spikes on the boom side of the business cycle. Quality of life dropped a lot when Cal Ave and Univ lost all the longtime diverse businesses and became gyms and services for day workers whose companies dont even pay local taxes.

As the Stanford model demonstrates, the only way to have stable retail areas is for the city to own the land and/or the buildings. Midtown shopping center was sold not that long ago for $15 million; we could have afforded it. These things are usually financed over 30 years - ends up being very doable.

The only way we can afford to have City services and schools is owning the properties. If we want to have vibrant retail areas again, that is the way, and probably the only way. But it’s doable with resolve.


scott
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Feb 23, 2022 at 12:32 pm
scott, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2022 at 12:32 pm

If you want a healthy Cal Ave, here's what you do:
a) Keep it open to pedestrians. We have another downtown that is taken over by loud soot-spewers already. Let's not cede all of our human-friendly commercial spaces to cars and leave that entire niche to Castro.
b) Accept that you don't get to dictate politically what the street becomes, and that only your money talks. Stores are closing because you -yes, you- haven't spent enough money at those stores. Restaurants are moving in because people spend money there. You don't get to leave your money on the sidelines 364 days out of the year that you're shopping on Amazon, and expect the full suite of local services to be available on the 365th day when you're willing to leave the house.
c) Let more customers move into the area by allowing more, vertical, residential construction. These will be people for whom walking to a local shop might actually tempt them away from Amazon. Unlike --as Cal Ave currently shows-- most current Palo Altans.


PalyJim
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 24, 2022 at 9:10 am
PalyJim, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 24, 2022 at 9:10 am

I grew up in between Old PA and Calif. Ave (as we called it, then) between home and grandparent's home. It's an old theme, so pardon the reminder, but it was filled with retail, both chain and independent owners, stores along with banking, grocery and drug stores. It seems that stores close every year due to rising rents by unnamed landlords, only to be replaced by dull and lifeless "professional" offices that offer no spirit of place. Palo Altans make loud noises to keep "chain" restaurants out of downtown or Calif. Ave, but even those are more inviting than software startups or medical offices. "Dull" comes to mind!


EYC
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2022 at 11:00 am
EYC, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 25, 2022 at 11:00 am

It is sad to lose it. We have enough restaurants on Cal Ave already. People need to go out to have normal life. Go to the gyms, purchase in local grocery stores, pet supplies stores...........


marc665
Registered user
Midtown
on Feb 27, 2022 at 7:22 pm
marc665, Midtown
Registered user
on Feb 27, 2022 at 7:22 pm

It is interesting that none of the people complaining here will step forward to do anything. They all want someone else to fix it.

If you want to do something, put up your homes as collateral buy the building and then rent it out for a small fee. You can pay for it out of the windfall profit you will get when you sell the home you bought for $25,000 for millions of dollars. You can give back to the community without being a greedy homeowner.

/marc


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