Pleasanton Weekly

News - December 3, 2010

Safeway ready to build new supermarket near Fairgrounds

58,000-square-foot store will be 'flagship' operation for Pleasanton-based grocer

by Jeb Bing

Following the City Council's approval of a new Lifestyle supermarket near the Fairgrounds and a mandatory 30-day period before permits can be issued, Safeway is putting construction plans in place to start work on its 58,000-square-foot store early next year.

Scott Trobbe, a principal partner at South Bay Construction, who currently owns the 39-acre undeveloped site that Safeway will share, said specific plans are being drafted now. Permits for the start of construction could be pulled in January with Safeway's plan to open the store by this time next year.

The Safeway store with adjoining retail and commercial stores and restaurants will be built on a 12-1/2-acre site at the at the southwest corner of Valley and Bernal avenues adjacent to the I-680 northbound off-ramp. That parcel will be acquired from South Bay Construction, which already has city approval to build up to seven four-story office buildings on the rest of the site.

Safeway's plans, which have been under consideration by city planners for more than two years, were approved unanimously by the Planning Commission and then approved in back-to-back 4-1 votes by the City Council at its meetings Oct. 19 and Nov. 16.

Councilman Matt Sullivan voted against the project, contending that the new store could "suck the life" out of existing grocery stores in Pleasanton, possibly leaving employees at those stores without jobs.

The only other criticism of Safeway's plans came from Councilman Cindy McGovern, who said she was disappointed that Safeway had dropped plans to include a gas station as part of its new store development.

"I've been asked by many just why there won't be a gas station," she said. "I know many who drive to Dublin to buy gas at that Safeway and then do their shopping there."

City Manager Nelson Fialho said his staff, the Planning Commission and Safeway had agreed that a gas station at the new Bernal site just wouldn't fit.

McGovern joined with Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and others on the council to approve the project, saying it would bring new financial and shopping opportunities to Pleasanton.

"This new store, here in Pleasanton where Safeway has its corporate headquarters, will be the company's flagship store that will be continually updated with new ideas and products," Hosterman said.

Emily Wagner, Pleasanton's director of finance, said an economic and planning study by a Berkeley consulting firm showed that 25 percent of the sales to be generated by the new store will come from shoppers using Pleasanton stores for the first time. Because of its larger size and product offerings, including large organic foods and fresh vegetables sections, the Lifestyle store also will bring back Pleasanton shoppers who now go to supermarkets outside of Pleasanton to shop, including Whole Foods in San Ramon, the survey added.

The fiscal impact to Pleasanton will add $123,000 to the city's general fund in the store's first year of operation and $285,000 a year after that.

The Safeway complex is at the southwest corner of Valley and Bernal avenues adjacent to the I-680 northbound off-ramp. It will include a bank with drive-up tellers and ATMs, a pharmacy, also with drive-up services, and restaurants. Walkways throughout the complex will connect the stores to several sit-down outdoor plazas.

Driveways will be positioned along Valley Avenue, and one on Bernal will link with the Koll Center driveway on the other side with a full-phase traffic signal to allow turns into and out of both centers in either direction. Although larger and newer than the Pleasanton Safeway at Valley and Santa Rita Road, that popular store will remain open.

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