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Bargain Box, other California Avenue tenants concerned about eviction

Original post made on Mar 7, 2014

The recent sales of a number of family-held commercial buildings in the California Avenue business district are worrying longtime tenants of Palo Alto's so-called "second downtown."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 7, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (22)

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Posted by RogerD
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:11 am

Change is always happening, life goes on. California Ave is full of companies eeking out a living. Rents will go up, buildings will sell, that's the economy, the American way of life. Sure its nice to hark back to yesterday,to think of days gone bye, but realistically , they have gone. Time to move onward and forward.
"Kick out" notices, really, bit dramatic, lets call it relocation time and its a protection for the tenant. Each and every tenant sells something, they need to make a profit, if they don't they go out of business.
Building owners are no different. Think about it. Someone who owned the building 30 years ago had say a $50k investment, today the new owner invests millions.
We are talking retail establishments here,what drives business is foot traffic, location, location, location. Everyone seems to think they are going to be put out of business, just like when the street market started.
Time to move with the times, embrace the change, be part of it, be a success at what you do.

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Posted by Randy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:45 am

Well Roger, there's that word "success" again. Bargain Box was a success at what they were doing. The businesses on Calif Ave are successful and make a living and a lot of people happy. (I'm always happy to go there rather than to University Ave where there's no parking.) But alas, around here success is defined by profit only. Even our high schoolers struggle with the current version of success being imposed on them. Not happy, creative, useful, contributing....just rich. So sorry, I probably won't "embrace" the sort of change that evicts the variety of tenants that I value. I will just continue to move my business out of Palo Alto.

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Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

I predict that Antonio's Nut House, including its popular and delicious Mexican family restaurant, will be kept as a cornerstone on Cal Ave. Places like the florist and Bargain Box can move around the corner to cheaper leases, and do well. I don't think that change will come fast, or be particularly dramatic.

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Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:24 am

I stopped into The Bargain Box yesterday to donate a few things. It is one of my favorite places in Palo Alto, always full of surprises and smiles.

When the delightful, devoted volunteers mentioned that the shop would be closing in August, I was flabbergasted. It's hard to imagine California Avenue without The Bargain Box and its wonderful people and ever-changing merchandise.

Until yesterday, I have always left with a more positive spirit, even if I've just looked around and talked to the volunteers and clientele. Such a lovely place. I will miss The Bargain Box terribly, unless someone comes forward to give it a new, well-deserved home. I hope that happens.

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Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

The violin shop is a wonderful hidden gem in Palo Alto. Mr. Hausller was just a young man starting out when we discovered him more than 20 years ago. He does beautiful work and is an asset to the non-techy side of Palo Alto. I hope he finds a good spot in the neighborhood.

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2014 at 12:11 pm

It will be interesting to see how many stores are gone from Cal Ave in a couple of years. The whole idea of making Cal Ave a destination for Bay Area shoppers was delusional, from the start, but clearly if the street-scape is revamped to make the business district more desirable to upscale shoppers--then getting rid of the stores that appeal to downscale shoppers seems inevitable.

Got to wonder if the evictions/move-outs doesn't come to about 30% within a fairly short period of time.

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Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2014 at 12:11 pm

These businesses are only a block away from the train station. You can bet that tech companies are drooling over this space, since employees taking the train don't have to worry about parking and traffic. I hope that the city can move some of these companies down the Park Blvd corridor, which is still close to the train station but doesn't infringe on the retail district. Park Blvd between California Ave and Frys Electronics is a still under-utilized part of the city.

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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Time for a lot of us to leave. Too bad we got spoiled living here.

There will be these desirable places for the rich to live in and all the rest will have to settle for the back of beyond.

Nice job that we bailed them out a few years ago.

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Posted by RogerD
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm

businessdecision: really, and you live in Menlo Park.
Yes remember the days when we had to hunt for food, kill what we needed to eat, pick berries off the trees. Those back of beyond places.
Life is good , enjoy it.
Success is defined by profit if your in business, that's how we get food on our tables.
Why does it always have to come down to them and us. shouldn't it be we.
The love of money is the root of all evil, but money is what keeps us all alive.

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Posted by Don
a resident of Mayfield
on Mar 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

The 200 block of California Ave, between Birch and Park, is tired and in serious need of renovation. Would that it were as vibrant as the 400 block. Bring on the new businesses.

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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Park BLVD is shortly going to be a parking lot all times of the day when that monster hole in the ground gets filled in with a monster building and multiple hundreds of cars. No one seems to be concerned that we have the same road area as we had in 1955. In fact they are busy removing lanes to make traffic "flow" better. That worked great on Arastradero Rd. Plans are in the works to remove a lane of El Camino for the buses. That is being planned by one of those anonymous government agencies that are supposed to make our lives "better". ABAG falls into the same category. They won't be happy until the country looks like Rumania. BMR housing for everyone.

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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm


"That is being planned by one of those anonymous government agencies".

Are you referring to VTA, the agency that is in charge of transportation in Santa Clara county? Yeah, they certainly do like to keep a low profile...

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm

> Yeah, they certainly do like to keep a low profile

They certainly do. It's almost impossible to know what crazy ideas that they are going to come up with next. Got to wonder who in that organization has decided to reduce El Camino's lanes so that it can become a bicycle and pedestrian parkway--effectively pushing the auto traffic off to other roadways.

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Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm

If, in the future, people want to know when Palo Alto went into decline, this would be as good of an indicator of that process.

Funny thing -- California Avenue, as "flawed" as it may seem to some on this discussion thread, had a character that other parts of Palo Alto, most noticeably University Avenue, conspicuously lacked. And now, it's going to swallowed up by mindless construction...

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2014 at 7:57 am

The need for shopkeepers units grows, the need for retail grows. Hope they can figure out how to add more retail to El Camino? Personally you need florists, insurance agents, violin store, shoe repair, Cho's and all these small businesses then another tech company or juice bar.

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Posted by cal ave renter
a resident of Portola Valley
on Mar 8, 2014 at 9:00 am

homes are selling for over $1000 sq/ft, office is renting for $8 sq/ft... i seriously question how brick and mortar retail can compete with office rents and survive in this area with such inflated ipo money bubble costing. how many pairs of shoes, books or coffees do you need to sell cover a $5-6-10 /mo lease? brutal.

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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2014 at 9:38 am

Sounds like the area is going to need one of those protected living museum districts you see so often in Europe. We can move all the "old" style real businesses into it so our children and grandchildren can see what the real world used to be like.

It's sad that we are being overtaken by businesses and workers who produce nothing which is substantial - only games and apps and "social" sites which physically isolate people from each other and in many cases from their minds. They are producing a virtual world with the consequence of destroying the real world.

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

@whatever: Those businesses and workers produce profits. Money is the driving force. I’m not knocking it. We all need profitable businesses to employ us and fund the economy.

In any case, few people seem to care “what the real world used to be like.” It was way back in 1970 that Joni Mitchell wrote, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Web Link

But we keep on paving. Maybe the virtual world is better than the real one.

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Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Let's face it. Palo Alto once was a community. Now it's a commodity.

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Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

I wish I could leave Palo Alto too. The charm is gone. I think Tony owns the Nut House property. Wonder if he has kids that would want to keep it going. It's the only normal bar left in Palo Alto, and by normal, I mean you can get a Margarita for under $10.00.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 9, 2014 at 9:49 am

As for Cho's Mandarin Dim Sum-filthy interior, mediocre food. I'd be sad if we were losing a decent food joint. We're not.

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Posted by Gary B
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Sometimes I think it's the anal Palo Alto code that hurts. What if someone bought a building, but had more freedom with the planning biddies? Maybe they could create spaces for lower margin business while they opened up the main part of the building to higher rent payers.

Anyhow, who's in? I'd love to buy a commercial building in that area.

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

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