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Council urged to take tough stance on Edgewood Plaza developer over grocery store

Original post made on Aug 13, 2019

It's been a year and a half since Edgewood Plaza's new grocery store opened for business in Palo Alto, but the city and the plaza's developer remain embroiled in a legal standoff, with little signs of compromise.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 5:14 PM

Comments (35)

10 people like this
Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2019 at 5:59 pm

marc665 is a registered user.

So is the understory that the current market is not paying any rent and still can't sell enough products to continue operations? If so when it shows that regardless of what the neighbors say, they don't "walk the talk". They are not spending enough to maintain the store and it should be allowed to close.

At somepoint the store has to start paying market rate rents.

/marc


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Anecdotally, I have heard that the Market is very popular with residents of East Palo Alto. I'm talking about the techie types who live there.


20 people like this
Posted by Another undersized store
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 13, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Is the current grocery store in trouble? If so, it is due to the neighborhood residents. The only way the grocery will succeed if local residents shop there. And do the residents think that if this store goes under another grocer would want to take over this location knowing that people,will not whole there. The fact that there “has to be a grocery store” at that location does not absolve the residents from spending plenty of their money there. Perhaps, the neighborhood should put into place mandatory spending at Edgewood plaza for their residents- they could then shame those that do not carry their weight.


27 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2019 at 7:11 pm

>> Sand Hill subsequently sued the city, arguing that the zoning ordinance only requires the "continued use" of the property as a grocery store, not the store's "continued operation."

>> Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Peter Kirwan agreed with that interpretation and nullified about $318,250 in fines

There is a judge we should all be voting against when we get the chance.

San Hill ... why is the city doing business with these rats? Why did they ever?

The spirit of an agreement is important, and why would anyone make a useless condition of a market that is not in operation as a contingency of contract? I think the city ought to get punitive, because Sand Hill, at least from my point fo view from the reporting here has continually acted in bad faith.

I am glad Edgewood Market seems to be succeeding, at least by the number of cars in their parking lot, but everything they have done has turned out poorly in the long run. I started out shopping there frequently, but now due to a lot of unpleasant incidents I tend to avoid it unless I just want one thing. For so few shoppers there is often a line, and the last time I was there the cashier let a very rude lady cut in front of four people waiting patiently. When I asked a manager about it he said it's not his job. These things happen everywhere, but it seems to me more often at this place. They need to keep the good people and get rid of the others, and do a better job of getting rid of produce that has gone bad.

I wonder if they are purposefully doing a bad job, because I know they can do better.

Palo Alto needs a single point of contact for its residents. We need a mayor. A while ago I posted a comment in other article about Bernie Sanders and his cable TV show where Bernie personally explains talks to Burlington VT residents, and explains his mayoral style as meeting with people and listening to them and fixing their problems. This is what Palo Alto needs instead of a bunch of bureaucrats and rich people looking after developer's interests first. I like to see a mayor of Palo Alto in the "Bernie" mold, who walks around the city and listens to people and re-prioritizes our city for the people instead of Stanford University's puppet.


7 people like this
Posted by Sand
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2019 at 7:19 pm

CPA- the city is not doing business with sand hill. The owner of the center, a private entity, chose to do business with sand hill.


40 people like this
Posted by Do your homework first
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2019 at 9:01 pm

Ok people, people, people. This lawsuit has nothing to do with whether the grocery store is doing well or is not doing well. The neighbors who have come together know nothing about the financials of the market. What they do know is that the developer is a litigious, corrupt entity that is trying to milk the city for every penny without acknowledging that it violated the terms and conditions of the PC that it, itself, asked for when the $30 million in townhomes were being built. Sand Hill knows that the City of Palo Alto has a history of shying away from lawsuits, and that is why it has pursued litigation in the first place. The Market at Edgewood is simply caught in the middle between the neighbors who know Sand Hill's antics, and the City, which is trying to figure out whether to fight or flee......What this lawsuit appeal does is put a "check" in place, a little "reminder" to Sand Hill that if it wants to play in the City of Palo Alto, that it needs to play by the rules, and not make the neighborhood its collateral damage.


22 people like this
Posted by Do your homework first
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2019 at 9:05 pm

@Sand: "The owner of the center, a private entity, chose to do business with sand hill."

Actually, the owner of the center IS Sand Hill. This is not news, nor is it any kind of secret. Anyone following this story from Fiji knows this....


16 people like this
Posted by Shawn
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2019 at 6:14 am

I live accross the street from the plaza. The market is the only business i dont shop much at. The prices are the highest in the area. The prices are double then Wholefoods. The Fresh Market which was there before didnt do well because of the overpriced groceries. Their prices were cheaper then The market. Put a Trader Joes there and it will take off.


15 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 14, 2019 at 8:31 am

The market needs to stay open according to terms of the contract. Right now the market is being intentionally run as a failure. Prices are double anywhere else, nobody in their right mind would shop there. It would be better for all parties involved to make a good faith effort to get a real market running. A Sprouts at that location would do very good business. As would a Whole Foods.


8 people like this
Posted by midtowngrrl
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2019 at 9:51 am

I used to shop the Fresh Market almost weekly. They had fantastic sales and prices mostly lower than Whole Foods (and without the snobby Whole Foods shoppers!) and very friendly/helpful staff.

I've been to the Market at Edgewood twice - neither time did they have what I was shopping for and neither item was particularly unique (once for cream the second I don't remember what I went for); I also "shopped around" both times to see what their selection and prices were like. Not good on either account. Prices much higher than Whole Foods.

As for Sand Hill - WOW! that is some serious hair splitting when they argue it fulfills their contract to have an un-operational grocery store on the property. And bad on the judge who concurred. Any 9 year old would understand the spirit of the agreement was to have a functioning open and operating grocery store on the site.


12 people like this
Posted by Sand
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2019 at 11:26 am

Midtown- spirit of the agreement is irrelevant. What the city signed of on is the determining factor. The city has a history of not paying attention to what they sign off on.


11 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 14, 2019 at 11:35 am

There is no such word as "incentivize." "Incentive" is a noun. Motivate is the verb. I know, I know. Damned word nazi. I cringe at the ugly misuse of English; however, I applaud the creative adaptation of language such as "He is an adorkable guy." The difference being, a listener will know adorkable is meant as a compliment, incentivize is just wrong.

Don't bother.

I don't live near it, but I do shop at the market at times because it is a great store and deserves to survive. I hope I motivated others to give it some business.


5 people like this
Posted by CP Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2019 at 11:36 am

This market should use TJ's as the model and keep, at least, the prices of staples competitive.
I live close by but hardly ever shop there.


4 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2019 at 11:38 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Maybe the city should sue the market or the previous tenant and force them to sell us bananas at cost


10 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2019 at 12:01 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

Neighbors should quit whining and start shopping, not just for a carton of milk or loaf of bread, but for all their grocery needs. It's the only way this place will survive. You demanded the market, so support it, even if some of the prices are higher. The fate of the place is in your hands. The lot is full often, but not with shoppers at the store. There are other businesses there doing well.

IMO, TJ's wouldn't work. Footprint too small for most markets and not enough parking for them.


22 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Robinson
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2019 at 12:17 pm

First, thank you Ray, the Word Nazi. Your humour is needed now, for lots of issues.

Now I jump in to comment on The Market: We shop there several times a week, as do almost everyone I know. This market was just voted Best Grocery Store and Best Produce in Palo Alto, and for good reason. The variety of their products is huge as is the quality. No one has mentioned the incredible staff which, to a person, is anxious to provide happy, competent, friendly service. Anyone who has shopped there will attest to that.

Emel Mutlu and her husband Aiden, the owners, have quickly established themselves as huge supporters of our community; happy and willing to become involved in all local needs and activities. They support local artisans and small businesses, they are always coming up with new ideas to provide extra services to their shoppers, like the Saturday afternoon BBQ and morning custom omelets.

I've never known of a grocery store like this one and I promise I will do whatever is necessary to keep it in our city. Whether it means petitions, speaking at City Council or carrying signs. We deserve a quality store and we intend to keep it!


13 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2019 at 12:27 pm

I live just a few blocks away and shop at least three times a week for their fresh produce. It is the best! I have discovered you have to be alert at the check out that the price is correct and that number of items you have purchased is correct. I do agree that the prices on other items seem high, but do yourself a favor and go for the wonderful fruits and veggies.


9 people like this
Posted by LENORE
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2019 at 1:45 pm

I am a know fan of the store and the management team. I am also a very budget conscious shopper and find the veggies/frutis to be well within farmer's market and other store prices. Plus FRESH. Other products such as dairy, there is milk and yogourt at all price levels. I stick with Clover and have it never go bad (which has happened at TJ's). Cheese - can alwayss be cut to meet my budget if there are only large blocks available.

Meat/fish a firm believer one gets what one pays for this item.. I can purchase a small amt for quality and not break the bdget.. Let me not get started on the Bakery.....and it's reputation is city wide in a short period of time.

Bulk items -- yes there are less expensive options, only those purchases are not daily. Plus if one runs out of TP they can quickly get to the market for immediate need.

Everyone has an opinion - hopefully those that grumble will think about the value of WALKING a few blocks to a beautiful environment (nothing wrong with Grocery Outlet - if they have what you need. somehow getting into the car and driving over for 1-2 items that I need fast isn't saving me money or time. Last but not least, I strongly support the market as a community environment - rarely do I not run into somoene I know or knows me.

Sand Hill has a a reputation up and down the peninsula as a difficult company to work with - So far it seems that they would rather spend their money on hi priced lawyers than deal in good faith with the community. The iinitial arbitration judge ruled in favor of the City - but then SH reached into deep pockets and went back to court. HOpefully the city keeps fighting for what is right and not roll over to make "something - whatever that is" go away and not having a grocery store of this caliber was something we all worked hard to get. I still don't get the thinking behind having a grocery store space, but not the grocery store.....


11 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 14, 2019 at 2:24 pm

I no longer live in the Embarcadero Plaza area but did for more than 30 years, and I've followed the problems and disputes there since the old Lucky's grocery closed. The ruling of the judge astonishes me. The agreement that there should be a grocery store in this area is not just the spirit of the agreement. It is what the agreement says. It does not say that there should be a commercial space that might be filled by a grocery store at some point. An empty building is not a grocery store even if it once was or could be a grocery store. A grocery store is a place one can buy groceries. I agree with the person who said to vote this judge out of office.


8 people like this
Posted by Louise Beattie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Louise Beattie is a registered user.

By Promising a grocery store Sand Hill enhanced the value of the housing y=units thay built and sold. The prospect of a grocery store suited their needs until they no longer needed one.


6 people like this
Posted by Duveneck resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Duveneck resident is a registered user.

The prospect of a grocery store enhanced the value of the housing units Sand Hill built and sold. It was useful then for marketing.


7 people like this
Posted by @ Ray
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2019 at 5:15 pm

The verb associated with incentive is "incent." Motivate is a different word.

Ray is motivated to keep the store open. The property owner was incented to retain the grocery store through the upzoning as part of the Planned Community zoning.


6 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2019 at 6:21 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ Jane....you just proved my point. Shopping 2-3 times per week for fruits and vegetables will not keep this store in business. Locals need to do all their grocery shopping here for it to succeed, regardless of whether it costs a little more. You all screamed for it....now do the right thing. You'll save by not driving as far, etc., etc. If it folds, it'll be on all of you.


7 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2019 at 6:23 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

BTW, Jane....the meat department is great, as is the deli,cheese and bakery.


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 14, 2019 at 7:19 pm

I go for the deli. Traffic in that area around 6pm this evening was, uh, congested.
Market parking lot mostly full, but no wait at checkout.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2019 at 8:18 pm

“You all screamed for it..”
Whaaaat?
Umm this was a shopping center for decades and it included a grocery. Center neglected terribly, stores closed. Years go by.
When San Hill proposed to the City of Palo Alto to renovate the center and manage it, they were supposed to renovate in a certain way which they did not do do on one building. This was a historic Eichler development.
As to the agreement with maintaining a grocery store, they got a new fabulous opportunity to build and sell (approx 30M profit) homes there. There were no high density, high profit homes there previously. They profited real quick on this aspect, then when TFM closed owing to stores west of the Mississippi closing in that chain, the developer did not maintain the grocery. This is not about neighborhood shoppers not shopping at a specific grocery store.
For one thing, between the tiny but popular Starbuck’s and commuters using the parking lot for a commuter lot, parking is tough. Please no hair or nail salons.


6 people like this
Posted by Billy
a resident of Duveneck School
on Aug 15, 2019 at 6:57 am

Do the right thing.???? WTF. Why would i continue to buy overpriced produce and groceries.??? I have two kids that will be in college in 5 yrs. Sorry most of us dont have income to just burn. "regardless of how much it cost.'' Lol Statements like that shows how shallow you are. Its on you if it closes.? YES. people i will take full responsiblity if it closes.


4 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 15, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

This is a ridiculous thread. Just like the people who object to the 1 percent Art budget at the new Police Station and say that their kindergartner can make better public art than Peter Wegner, the people who complain here should try to run their own grocery store or, better, develop their own mixed use project.

The City will lose any legal action against a major local developer like Sand Hill Peter Pau because industry pays better than the public sector; (similarly, Palo Alto property owner Sergey Brin could probably write a better app than the city's recent tech guru "Dr. Reichenthal" or whoever).

But just the same, good thing we have courts and public hearings so that not all the world is decided by anonymous trolls on internet posting boards


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Mark Weiss ....

> the people who complain here should try to run their own grocery store or, better, develop their own mixed use project.

If that is your complaint, how is it any different from anything anyone else said, except unrelated to the actual issue and insulting and dismissive of other people's opinions?

> all the world is decided by anonymous trolls on internet posting boards

No part of the world is decided by anonymous trolls or internet posting boards, but sometimes they have "relevant" comments to an issue. Perhaps you object to the secret ballot too and believe everyone ought to OK their votes with you?

At least we anonymous trolls have a point.


5 people like this
Posted by Adam P
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2019 at 6:21 am

Here's a quick example of how expensive this grocery store is. Looking at my previous purchases from last week. Two packs of Ballpark Franks. each cost $5.12. Grocery outlet or Safeway under $2 dollars. $11 bucks for two packs of franks at the Market. Under $3.75 at most other grocery stores. Sometimes Grocery outlet has it for $99 cents a pack. Case closed.


5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Is the initial comment here by marc665 about the Edgewood Market getting subsidized rent true?

>> So is the understory that the current market is not paying any rent and still can't sell enough products to continue operations?

If so, then why the high prices? One would think that lowering the price would establish trust and a loyal customer base, and that high prices would indicate a management that just seeks to make quick high short term profits and then get out when the customer base collapses.

So, is it true that Edgewood Market is getting their rent subsidized? Where is that documented one way or another?


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2019 at 4:22 pm

Is this one of these locations where the neighbors protested that they wanted a supermarket for local residents only, not a big and popular supermarket that would attract traffic from other parts of the city? Realistically, the overhead of a general purpose supermarket makes these small locations uncompetitive with the other supermarkets in the city. Trader Joes and Safeway are just a mile away from this location.

The best solution for small locations is an "ethnic" supermarket which needs a smaller selection of products and will develop a steady and dedicated customer base.


8 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Robinson
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2019 at 4:39 pm

Response to Resident above:
The Market is a small store in a space that had trouble attracting other grocers for the very reason you say. Shopping there, I always find a huge number of products I cannot find other than at an ethnic grocery.I am always surprised by the variety and quality. Additionally, if there is a product you would like them to carry for you, Emel is very happy to bring it to the store. She has a close relationship with her staff and the customers and the interaction is to everyone's benefit.

I must add I have never come out of that store not feeling just happy. There is a kind of joy going on there, amongst the staff and the customers. We all talk to each other, congratulate ourselves on having such a beautiful, fun place to buy high quality products. I just tried the Tuna Poke this week after getting a generous sample from Butch, the Butcher. To say it was divine is not describing it! I love this store.


13 people like this
Posted by Ursula
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 23, 2019 at 3:23 pm

If the store can't make it with free rent then the property owner will need to subsidize the store's operation.

They agreed to have a grocery store there. They need to meet this requirement by whatever means necessary.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:20 am

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Is this one of these locations where the neighbors protested that they wanted a supermarket for local residents only, not a big and popular supermarket that would attract traffic from other parts of the city?

The "deal" was that a market would be there (need not be "super"). I'm sure the owner would prefer to turn it into cubicles and put app developers in there and collect more rent for that use. But, that wasn't the deal.


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