Planners OK new Safeway 'Lifestyle' store near Fairgrounds
58,000-square-foot supermarket, to open late next year, will be city's largest
The Pleasanton Planning Commission gave its unanimous approval last week to plans by Safeway to build one of its new "Lifestyle" supermarkets in Pleasanton with a scheduled opening of November next year.
It was the second preliminary approval last week of multi-million-dollar development projects in the city. On Aug. 24, the City Council approved an agreement that will allow the annexation and commercial and senior residential projects on Staples Ranch in the city's northeast corner.
Safeway officials told planners that their new store will be on a 12-1/2-acre site Safeway is acquiring from South Bay Construction, which also has plans to build 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, restaurants, a drive-through pharmacy and outdoor dining. Safeway also is reserving an additional 10,000-square-feet for future expansion of its store.
Earlier plans to include a fuel station on the store site have been dropped.
That brought the only complaint from the Planning Commission as it completed its final consideration of Safeway's application.
"I was sorry to learn that Safeway has dropped the fuel station from its plans," said Planning Commissioner Arne Olson.
But when Safeway representatives first discussed their 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.
Safeway said its 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.
The firm's application for final approval is expected to be considered by the City Council next month. If approved then, Safeway said construction work will start immediately. Safeway has its funding in place and wants to open the new supermarket by November 2011.
Facing Valley, the store will back onto the northbound I-680 off-ramp. 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.
Scott R. Trobbe, a principal partner at South Bay Construction, said he 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 earlier 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.
His firm recently received a five-year extension of its building rights on the site.
"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."
At the council meeting when Trobbe was granted the development extension, Councilman Matt Sullivan suggested that perhaps the office park site should be considered for residential uses.