Pleasanton: Owner wants to replace old Denny's with multi-tenant building

City Council due to review project soon after Planning Commission endorses

This restaurant building at 6455 Owens Drive has been vacant for about four years since tenant Denny's left. Now, the property owner wants to redesign the lot with a new, multi-tenant commercial building. (Photo by Jeremy Walsh)

The owner of the Owens Drive property where the former Denny's restaurant building has sat vacant for years is proposing to redevelop the site with a larger commercial building to accommodate multiple tenants.

The project application is on track to head to the City Council for consideration later this fall after the Planning Commission endorsed the proposal with some modifications last week.

The commissioners' conversation centered on what types of new businesses there would require a more stringent conditional use permit and making sure traffic into and out of the redesigned parcel would move smoothly in light of common congestion in the area, especially from the nearby Chick-fil-A, according to city planning manager Ellen Clark.

The project parcel at 6455 Owens Drive is nearly 36,000 square feet overall, situated between Johnson Court and the Larkspur Landing hotel, just a short block from the busy Owens Drive-Hopyard Road intersection.

The site contains a parking lot and a 3,510-square-foot restaurant building that is rundown and has remained empty since Denny's left nearly four years ago.

Owner Abbas Mash initially brought forward a redevelopment plan back in 2015 that proposed replacing the restaurant with two new single-story commercial buildings, but that concept never advanced beyond a city workshop in September 2016, according to Clark.

Now, Mash is proceeding with a revised plan that calls for demolishing the former Denny's and constructing a single rectangular building at 10,980 square feet with five commercial tenant suites, with one intended to be a restaurant and the others some form of retail or commercial business.

The building would back up to Owens Drive, with the front doors facing a parking lot on the opposite side that would be screened by the building. There would be 42 parking spaces, five fewer than currently onsite.

City staff described the proposed building as incorporating traditional architectural style. Eleven trees would need to be removed, including one heritage tree -- to be replaced by 21 new trees and landscaping improvements.

The planned-unit development (PUD) application also asks the city to rezone the property from freeway commercial to PUD-commercial.

The Planning Commission reviewed the proposal during its Sept. 25 regular meeting, with most of the discussion focusing on traffic near the property, according to Clark.

A busy commercial area just off the freeway, traffic backups are common in all directions at the lighted intersection of Owens Drive and Hopyard Road, plus there are often queuing issues along Johnson Court -- and some times continuing onto Owens -- because of the drive-thru line and crowded parking lot at Chick-fil-A, which is located just steps away from the old Denny's site.

"The city is working on design for intersection improvements at the Hopyard/Owens intersection, including widening to add a southbound right turn lane from Hopyard on to Owens, that'll also include a new protected bike lane and bike signal," Clark told the Weekly. "The project is close to final design, with installation expected next summer."

The commissioners added a stipulation, at staff's recommendation, to not allow tenants to move into the proposed commercial building at 6455 Owens Drive until after the intersection improvements are completed, according to Clark.

They also opted to expand the list of potential businesses that would trigger a conditional use permit review to include coffee shops, doughnut shops and bagel shops, because of traffic patterns and impact on parking, Clark said.

The commission voted 3-0 to recommend approval of the project to the City Council. Commissioners Greg O'Connor, Brandon Pace and Herb Ritter were absent.

Commissioner Jack Balch didn't support the new condition of preventing occupancy until the Hopyard-Owens roadwork is finished, but he joined the majority in the final vote so the item could advance with recommendation to the council, according to Clark.

The project is tentatively scheduled to appear before the council on Nov. 5.

Jeremy Walsh is the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly and Reach him at or 925-600-0840, ext. 118.

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12 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Oct 2, 2019 at 10:14 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

Oh absolutely not.

The Chick-fil-A made traffic there a nightmare. Anything that draws more people in will just cause gridlock.

There's not enough room on that lot for restaurant parking and office use. And there's no reasonable way to mesh the traffic on that lot with the Chick-fil-A line. Frankly, Chick-fil-A should have been built on that lot in the first place and not deeper in on what used to be a hill. But that's too late.

I feel bad for the owner here, as pre-chicken this would have been a good project. But reality is what it is. There just isn't room to segregate the traffic to this lot and the line behind it.

16 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 2, 2019 at 10:32 am

Jack is a registered user.

Grumpy I feel your pain, but why should the Denny's guy be penalized because our planners made such a mess of the Chick Fil A project? Chick Fil A should be made to handle its own impacts. Limiting Denny's redevelopment because of mistakes by the planning department is simply not fair...

5 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Oct 2, 2019 at 10:42 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

I know it's not fair. But every project has to be evaluated by its further impact, not by its impact had the neighbors been empty lots. So the owner has to be affected.

Now, I agree that the city should have pursued or should be pursuing from Chick-fil-A some sort of mitigation. And if that mitigation truly solves the problem, then I'm okay with the Denny's owner going ahead. But that new turn lane has nothing to do with where the cars will go through the stub court to wait in line.

Maybe eliminating that Johnson Ct and replacing it with a separate waiting lane can solve the problem. But that's not the current proposal.

10 people like this
Posted by nightmare
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2019 at 10:45 am

Grumpy and Jack,

I do not think the city employees who approve these developments live in Pleasanton.

On Friday and Saturday late afternoons and evenings, the traffic from Chick-fil-A not only backs up on Owens but on Hopyard road. I have seen people exiting off of 580 onto Hopyard road have to slam on brakes to avoid rear-ending stopped traffic on southbound Hopyard.

I no longer shop in that area of town and go to Livermore and Dublin instead. With the safety risks of entering that area, plus the loiterers/day laborers from Home Depot sitting and standing on neighboring properties like Lazy Boy, etc., it is no longer a destination for our family whatsoever.

Furthermore, the other issue is that there is a narrow big rig loading dock in the shopping center with Bevmo and the grocery store that is right next to the jam-packed parking lot where the standstill traffic on Chick-fil-A's parking lot idles. Trucks can no longer back into the loading dock. I used to shop in that shopping center, but since they can't seem to keep their shelves stocked because they can no longer get timely deliveries, I shop instead in Livermore.

If another business is added to that area, I would not be surprised if the tenants of the entire shopping center choose to exit. All that will be left is Chick-fil-A and In-and-Out burger.

3 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Oct 2, 2019 at 10:54 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

Yeah, I've almost been backed into a few times by those trucks while in line.

4 people like this
Posted by Solution
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 3, 2019 at 8:01 am

A simple solution to improve traffic flow in that parking lot is to have Chick-fil-A fill their drive-through orders faster. Then there wouldn't be a long line.

Yes, we really need a right-turn lane from Hopyard onto Owens. Many times, the backup there is because one driver is going straight on Hopyard, and would sit at the right light. While the rest us are forced to wait behind that driver while trying to make a right turn.

3 people like this
Posted by nightmare
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2019 at 8:13 am

Having In-and-Out and Chick-fil-A fill orders faster is not going to reduce the traffic.

There are 5 lanes already. There is no room to add an additional 6th right turn lane from Hopyard to Owens because both Chick-fil-A and the brick office building at the corner of Owens and Hopyard are built so close to Hopyard that there is no room to place an additional lane.

12 people like this
Posted by JackBQuick
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2019 at 10:49 am

I know! Let's put a Costco near there! That should fix the traffic problems!

14 people like this
Posted by Spudly
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Oct 3, 2019 at 1:03 pm

The good news is about the owner. Mash is a Pleasanton resident and a very conscientious business man. I cannot think of a better person to ensure the job is completed with all aspects considered.

10 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 4, 2019 at 3:27 pm

No disrespect to any of the previous commenters, but the problem is not easily solved. There is a huge void in the common sense department of our Pleasanton planning commission. If a proper traffic study was brought forth prior to Chick-Fil-A being built none of this would be a problem. The simple facts are that the area can not handle any more traffic. It can not even handle the traffic now as it exists. There is a constant traffic jam in that small entrance and exit. Tractors and trailers must have access to deliver products to all the businesses in that center and unfortunately coupled with the customer traffic for the center, that makes the traffic jam gridlock. There was a huge error made by our planning commission in allowing Chick-Fil-A to build and operate in that location. They should consider buying the Denny’s property from Mash and then work on a exit plan for all of this mess that they created. Hopefully this will serve as a lesson going forward to use common sense and if needed hire the proper traffic consultants to review these new proposals. God forbid, if they don’t do this on the Costco project we will have a true nightmare in that area and onto Stoneridge Drive.

3 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Oct 6, 2019 at 12:15 pm

JackBQuick - Right? LOL That made me chuckle. Sad but true. Folks it all comes down to money, money money...Pink Floyd had it right. Peace.

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2019 at 9:19 am

With the existing traffic in that area, that would to be challenging for future residents to even attempt to get into their homes.

Like this comment
Posted by Sad
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Oct 9, 2019 at 3:59 pm

I sure do miss my Grand Slam Breakfasts........but Chik-fi-lay is a great replacement.

2 people like this
Posted by just asking
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2019 at 8:16 am

Again our government reps screwed us. Lets not forget owens drive being reduced to one lane. Moronic!!!!!!!!!!! chik fila should have gone where dennys is and maybe the city could have purchased that brick building and built a dedicated right turn lane their.

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