The 4-1 vote to deny the AT Dublin plan was made with “prejudice” eliminating the opportunity for the proponent, Shea Properties, to work with the staff and modify the proposal so it might meet muster with the council. Instead, it’s back to the drawing board for the 77-acre property.
Shea sought to build up to 556 dwelling units (apartments, small-lot single family and a 55-and-up neighborhood) plus 240,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The retail and restaurant plan was similar to City Center at Bishop Ranch.
Only Councilwoman Jean Josey supported the project, saying it wasn’t high density residential and there was a mix of uses. She noted that there may not be an ideal project for the site.
It’s a prime parcel with great access from major Dublin thoroughfares as well as Interstate 580. It will be interesting to see when Shea or another developer brings forth another plan. Given the changes the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking in the retail world (Amazon, Target, Walmart and Costco are flourishing while traditional mall-based retailers are declaring bankruptcy at a high rate), it’s an open question what successful retailers will be in the future.
Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has joined JCPenney and others in bankruptcy court. What’s notable is that Nieman Marcus plans to close its downtown Walnut Creek store, a striking development given that the three traditional prime locations for upscale retailers in the Bay Area are Union Square in San Francisco (also fading significantly), Stanford Shopping Center and downtown Walnut Creek.
Stoneridge owner, Simon Co., has seen two of its anchor stores close (Sears and Nordstrom) with JCPenney in bankruptcy, but no immediate plans to close the Pleasanton store (not the case for malls in Tracy and Concord where the JCPenney stores are closing). It has won approval for its plan to raze the Sears store and replace it with a specialty grocery store, other retailers, a health club and potentially a hotel. The two-story buildings will not be an enclosed mall.
Simon made the news this week when the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is talking with Amazon about locating its distribution hubs in vacant anchor stores. Simon owns nine shopping centers in Northern California (the San Francisco Bay Premium Outlets in Livermore is one of those properties).
Given that most malls (Stoneridge is an exception) have limited residential properties around them, objecting neighbors will not an issue. The Amazon use could generate significantly less traffic than an anchor store on a weekend or during the holiday season and are located conveniently to serve neighborhoods.
It’s an out-of-the-box use, but it may be just what Simon needs to keep the malls viable. You can also expect high density residential in the Stoneridge parking lots in the future.