Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 23, 2010

Safeway ready to start construction on new 'Lifestyle' market

Store will anchor 12-acre retail center at Valley, Bernal, near I-680

by Jeb Bing

Safeway announced this week that it will build one of its new "Lifestyle" supermarkets in Pleasanton with a scheduled opening of November next year.

The store will be on a 12-1/2-acre site Safeway is acquiring from South Bay Construction, which won an extension Tuesday from the City Council to extend its development rights for seven office buildings on the rest of the 40-acre parcel.

The multi-million-dollar Safeway complex will include the large supermarket and other small retail shops and possibly restaurants. Safeway also is reserving an additional 10,000 square feet for future expansion of its store.

David Zylstra, senior vice president of Property Development Centers (PDC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Safeway Inc., said earlier plans to include a fuel station on the store site have been dropped.

"Some of our newer stores have the stations but others don't," Zylstra said. "We consider each site individually when we consider amenities."

When Safeway representatives first discussed its long-range plans for the Bernal site with the city Planning Commission in 2008, several commissioners indicated they might not approve the plan if Safeway insisted on including the gas station. Opposition also was expected from the owners of the Shell Oil service station that is located directly across Valley Avenue from the proposed Safeway store.

Zylstra said the new store would be patterned after Lifestyle stores already open in Livermore, San Ramon, Alameda and Novato. Similar to those stores, it will feature foods under the "Eating Right" label for the calorie conscious and the big "O" for organics sections of foods.

Large open areas will include open bins for salads, pastries and cold cuts for the luncheon crowds with a sit-down area for dining. The store will include a Safeway pharmacy and space for allied vendors, including a bank and other services. The store will employ between 150 and 200 workers, Zylstra said.

He said Safeway hopes to clear the land and start construction late this year or very early in 2011 so that it can be open ahead of Thanksgiving next year.

Facing Valley, the store will back onto the southbound I-680 off-ramp. Driveways will be positioned along Valley Avenue and one on Bernal will link with the Koll Center drive on the other side with a full-phase traffic signal to allow turns into and out of the center in either direction.

Although larger and newer than the Pleasanton Safeway at Valley and Santa Rita Road, that popular store will remain open.

"For the most part, grocery shopping is convenience-oriented," Zylstra said. "That store has been here for years, offers great service, products and prices, and we expect it to continue to serve that side of town."

Scott R. Trobbe, a principal partner at South Bay Construction, said it still plans to develop the rest of the 40-acre site it owns into an office building complex.

Plans for the four-story campus haven't changed much since 2000, when South Bay joined with Greenbriar Homes and others to acquire the full 510-acre Bernal site from the city of San Francisco, which had owned the land since the 1930s. Greenbriar and KB Home have since built the homes and apartments the city of Pleasanton approved as part of the purchase agreement, which included 370 acres as a gift to the city for public uses. The city's first development on its property -- lighted baseball fields -- was completed last year.

In a presentation to the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Trobbe said the office building market is still sluggish, but the synergism he expects potential office tenants to see with the Safeway complex could spur development.

"Times have changed in the 10 years since we bought this property and proposed the office buildings," Trobbe said. "People want to live closer to transportation, spend less time in their cars, walk to work, bicycle everywhere, and the Safeway store and other outlets will give them a nearby place to go."

Trobbe said he and Safeway representatives have held meetings with the Pleasanton Downtown Association, business groups, neighborhood associations and others to review Safeway's plans. So far, he's found no opposition.

Safeway's proposal is expected to go before the Planning Commission in early September and then to the City Council.

"It's an aggressive schedule, but we know that we can do it," Trobbe said.

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