Now 30 years old, Dublin is on a roll | January 20, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Column - January 20, 2012

Now 30 years old, Dublin is on a roll

by Jeb Bing

Linda Smith praised the progress Dublin is making as a key city in revitalizing the Tri-Valley's economy, and with good reason. She's the city's Economic Development Director as well as its public relations spokeswoman. Speaking at a meeting of the Valley Real Estate Network, Smith said Dublin has been on an economic roll since this month a year ago when home builders and businesses started building, leasing and expanding after two years of a recessionary slowdown.

Two large vacant buildings in what she calls the city's west end downtown -- the shuttered Mervyns department store building on Dublin Boulevard and bankrupt Circuit City's building to the north on Amador Plaza Road -- are now home to Sports Authority and Sprouts Farmers Market. That still leaves about 40,000 square feet of Mervyns to fill, a tough sell because the side of the store and parking lot face onto Regional Street, which is not viewed as a choice retail location. Besides nationally-known Sports Authority, Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) opened its new 24,000-square-foot store nearby a few weeks earlier.

To the east in Hacienda Crossings, Food Network celebrity Guy Fieri opened another of his popular Johnny Garlic's restaurant, his fourth in the Bay Area, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries took over space occupied by Taxi's Hamburgers, adding to its 200 Five Guys restaurants across the country. Smith said Hacienda Crossings, with 1-1/2 million movie-goers crowding into its Regal Cinema in 2011, has become a major destination in the East Bay. Farther east, Target opened its second Dublin store after failing to secure a site in Pleasanton. This March, the popular BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, with its innovative spin on deep dish pizzas and sandwiches, will open next to Target.

On the residential side, Dublin is leading the Tri-Valley in new home construction, which is still in the doldrums elsewhere. She said permits for new housing as of last week already surpassed the total numbers for last year, with nearly six months to go before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

The city's imposing Palo Alto Medical Foundation building will soon have a new neighbor, Smith said. ValleyCare Health System will open a new surgery center next door, with a medical products company sharing the space. Kaiser Permanente, however, has postponed until the 2015-2023 time period plans to build a full-service hospital in Dublin. Kaiser's focus right now is on its hospital under construction in San Leandro, although Dublin is still in its long-range plans.

Adding to the good news, Smith said Ross Stores will move its corporate headquarters out of Pleasanton by 2014 and into three large office buildings it is purchasing near Sybase. The news space totals 420,000 square feet which Pleasanton couldn't provide and includes two large buildings built by Cisco Systems 10 years ago that have never been occupied.

The architecturally-striking Dublin Corporate Center, which along with office buildings throughout the Bay Area has faced high vacancy rates, is also bounding back with Epicor Software Corporation moving there from Livermore and taking 74,926 square feet and the Taleo Corporation renewing its lease while doubling the size of its headquarters to 108,644 square feet. The office center is now 88% full. Smith estimates that more than 1,000 jobs have been brought in to the Dublin Corporate Center over the past year.

Disappointing, though, was the decision by Caruso Development to cancel plans to build an upscale shopping center across from Hacienda Crossing, where Whole Foods was also expected to go. Smith said Whole Foods has walked away from opportunities to locate both in Dublin and Pleasanton, although she believes the grocer continues to be interested n expanding south of its San Ramon store.

Dublin was incorporated as a city in 1982 and will be celebrating its anniversary throughout the year, starting with a festive St. Patrick's Day at its Civic Center. The 30th year anniversary will be observed weekly on Thursday nights when the city's Farmers Market opens again in late April, and the city will sponsor an anniversary gala in Emerald Park in September with a community picnic, entertainment and fireworks. Dublin was named an All-American City last summer by the National Cities League, competing against 400 cities that sought the honor and the only California city to receive it. With those credentials and Dublin's ongoing progress, Smith has reason to gloat both as the city's economic development manager and its chief spokeswoman.