The proposed 65,000-square-foot Safeway would be designed to compete with the Whole Foods Market chain of stores that are attracting an increasing number of shoppers looking for healthy foods. Whole Foods recently announced that it will build a new store across from Hacienda Crossings in Dublin.
The new store would include a gas station and be a showcase retail operation to Pleasanton Gateway, an office center planned for the high-traffic intersection since 2000. The site developer, South Bay Development Company, extended its already-approved zoning on the site for another six years.
Behind Safeway and situated roughly parallel to the freeway, South Bay plan to construct seven office buildings totaling 588,000 square feet of space south of the Bernal-Valley intersection and 59,506-square-feet of retail and commercial space on the Valley Avenue side of the site, across from the Shell station and Jack-in-the-Box fast food restaurant.
To be called Pleasanton Gateway, the seven four-story office buildings would include business, professional, medical and administrative offices. The buildings would be 66 feet in height, although only four stories.
Safeway's store would range from 26 feet in height at the freeway to 38 feet at the entrance. Its loading dock would face the 680-Bernal Avenue off ramp and would be screened by landscaping from the freeway.
Safeway officials said the development proposal reflects their new store model as a "lifestyle" store. The grocery store and the service station would operate 24 hours a day. The gas station would have 10 fuel dispensers and an 880-square-foot employees/equipment building but no convenience market or car wash.
Seven retail buildings are also proposed for the site. Although fast food restaurants are allowed in Pleasanton's Neighborhood Commercial zoning areas, South Bay has agreed to not allow any types of drive-through businesses on the site.
The Pleasanton Planning Commission has scheduled a special workshop session to discuss the proposals with both Scott Trobbe of South Bay and representatives of Safeway. Initial detailed reviews of the plans by Marion Pavan, staff planner and Larry Cannon, the city's architectural peer review consultant with the Cannon Design Group, indicate most aspects of the South Bay and Safeway proposals are in accord with the city's General Plan.
The new Safeway store proposed for Pleasanton would follow the same consumer formula as Whole Foods, which is now considered by supermarket analysts as the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket and America's first national certified organic retailer.
Whole Foods recently opened a new store in Cupertino that at 68,000 square feet--or about the same size as the new store proposed by Safeway--is two-to-three times bigger than conventional supermarkets with 68,000-square-feet of specialty foods, including a dine-in Market Bistro, Culinary Center and over 200 seats for indoor/outdoor eating.
South Bay acquired the 39-acre parcel as part of the purchase of the Bernal property by Greenbriar Homes and associates in 2000 from the city of San Francisco. The Greenbriar consortium paid $126 million for the 510-acre parcel, with South Bay taking 39 of the acres. At the time, Greenbriar and KB Home received approvals to build 581 homes and apartments on their portion of the property, with an agreement that 318 acres would be given free of charge to the city of Pleasanton. The homes and apartments have been built, with a few still under construction west of the 680 freeway. Pleasanton is just now building three lighted baseball fields on its parkland.
South Bay, which had approval to build eight four-story office buildings, was granted an extension of its planning approval after the office market collapsed in 2001 and South Bay decided to postpone the construction project.