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Around Town: New College Terrace grocery store set to open before Christmas Day

Original post made on Dec 20, 2020

In the latest Around Town column, news about a grocery store set to open its doors in time for Christmas, the rescue story behind a kitten now up for adoption and local churches lending their voices for a musical holiday greeting.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, December 20, 2020, 8:09 AM

Comments (10)

Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 20, 2020 at 1:52 pm

jc is a registered user.

Let's hope the new owners of the College Terrace market will make a bit of a splash with a a formal opening after the New Year when people will be more likely paying attention than right before the holidays. It would be great to generate some publicity by inviting at least one council member to cut a ribbon to provide a nice photo op for the local press plus a little article. Not make the same mistake as the two previous markets which opened with a whisper with few people even noticing, and closed with a whisper. Although the owner of the building allowing exterior signage on his building this time should be a big help.
Plus there needs to be a much bigger and very visible sign to the entrance of the free underground parking. Otherwise drivers pass the building without even noticing there is a parking entrance tucked into the middle of the block.

Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2020 at 7:53 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

A sandwich/salad deli with a coffee bar & beer/wine license might work...offering produce, meat + miscellaneous grocery store items might be a stretch given the pandemic & strict food take-out order mandate currently in place.

A 7-11 style convenience store would also be a feasible option...except for the take-out food choices.

Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 21, 2020 at 1:57 pm

jc is a registered user.

There is a particular history behind the construction of such a large corporate office building on a small property that was zoned for 25K sq ft of neighborhood commercial which bordered a residential neighborhood, including homes across the street.

After the developer discovered that there was no acceptable "public benefit" that could possibly justify the city changing the existing 2-story neighborhood commercial zoning to allow him to build a zone-busting corporate office building, he came up with a creative idea. He proposed that a "commercial business" should be a permanent public. A market. He promised to include the return of the the much loved popular sixty decade plus family market, JJ&F, if the city would change the zoning.

However, after the developer's zone-busting proposal was turned down by the P&TC, who questioned the wisdom of a "commercial business" being required to remain in operation as the public benefit, he appealed to the council. He also appealed to the public for support and funded a very successful PR campaign to persuade the public that if the council could be persuaded to accept his proposal he could "Save" JJ&F. His campaign concluded with a large pre-council meeting party for supporters and bussing in the attendees to fill the council chambers with supporters.

Council caved and agreed to change the zoning. But did hold the developer to the terms he offered. In return for offering JJ&F as the public benefit he could build his zone-busting first class corporate office development. Being realistic about whether the developer might try to wriggle out of the agreement, council included some stringent and specific clauses to hold him to his offer. If not JJ&F, then a similar market offering the same standard of goods and services plus, as an incentive not to violate the terms of the city's permission, wisely included a schedule of daily fines should the public benefit not be available to the public for over 6 months.

Some questioned the council's wisdom of a very specific commercial business being a public benefit, but that was the developer's offer and the city's agreement. Hence, no substitute for some other public benefit, including a 7-11 convenience store.

Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2020 at 10:59 am

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

While JJ&F may have been beloved, they were losing money during the last few years they were open. I know one of the owners well. Shoppers had too many better options close by and the footprint of the store was too small for them to be competitive. The grocery business has very small profit margins. And, there was and still isn't any parking.

I hope the new store is successful but it will take more than locals stopping in for a carton of milk or a loaf of bread, even if it is fresh baked daily. The College Terrace neighbors who demanded a grocery store in the new building will only have themselves to blame if this venture fails as did the previous two and at some point the city will have to give up on the idea and let the property owner lease the space to something other than a market.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 22, 2020 at 11:38 am

Online Name is a registered user.

JJ&F DID have a parking lot behind the store as well as on-street parking, unlike the new monstrosity where you have to struggle to find the parking. You'd think parking would be behind the building, but no.

Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 22, 2020 at 12:14 pm

jc is a registered user.

Parking garage is underneath the building, lots of free reserved spots for JJ&F customers along with an elevator. Someone told me there are now two elevators. Entrance is on El Camino midway down the block, but easy to miss.

Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 22, 2020 at 12:19 pm

jc is a registered user.

Because the owner was given permission to blow out the existing zoning because commercial properties that border a neighborhood are required to be only two stories, in return for this oversize building with all that hugely profitable first class corporate office space, he offered and is required to maintain a market in return. Even if he has to pay the market to be there!

Posted by Fritzie Blue
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 22, 2020 at 2:43 pm

Fritzie Blue is a registered user.

The Khoury family was really given a raw deal. They were Iovely, so kind and accommodating to shoppers.

Also, I sincerely hope the "halal" posted on the new storefront does not signify what it has traditionally meant. Such inhumane treatment of animals should never be tolerated.

Finally, what a sweet kitten. May he get the best possible home. (But not here, my cats most ungenerously say.)

Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2020 at 3:10 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ Online Name ... you are correct. JJ&F did have parking behind the store and limited street parking. They didn't fail because of parking. The footprint of the store was too small to be competitive with Mollie Stones, Safeway, Trader Joe's, Costco .... all close by. People in the neighborhood, with few exceptions stopped shopping there except for small items they didn't pick up elsewhere. I hope the new owners can make a go of it. It won't be easy.

Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 22, 2020 at 3:25 pm

jc is a registered user.

The owners of the building have always been trying to wriggle out of the contract struck with the city, the market, in return for all that zone-busting first class office space. Currently occupied by the First Republic Bank corporate offices in what should have been a two story "neighborhood commercial" mix of retail and services.

No surprise that both the two previous markets had such "difficulties" with the building owner, and closed. The owner then went to court to get the public benefit requirement removed. However the courts upheld the contract with the city, and the owner is now liable for approximately one million dollars in fines, as per the contract. Which is also being contested.

However, now the building owner knows that the deal struck with the city is legally binding, the public will finally get the public benefit that was agreed on, a fully functioning market, even if it has to be subsidized!

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