Planning Board okays shopping center design

Planning Board okays shopping center design

Michele Ellson
Alameda Landing

Alameda’s Planning Board approved the design of the remainder of a Target-anchored shopping center that’s being built near the Webster Tube – the final administrative approval the project needed before construction could start.

The Target store is under construction and slated to open in October, and developer Catellus is hoping the remainder of the shopping center will be open for business in the summer of 2014.

“We’ve been working on this for many years,” Catellus’s Sean Whiskeman said.

The city got the 77-acre property where the Alameda Landing development is being built in 1999 and approved the retail and housing development in 2007, but the plan stalled for five years due to a deep recession and ownership shifts at Catellus. The project restarted in earnest in 2012, with the developer gaining approvals for 275 homes and for the Target store.

In addition to Target and Safeway, the development’s 11 commercial buildings are set to include a Michaels craft store, the Corner Bakery Café, Habit Burger Grill and Panda Express eateries. City leaders have said a Sleep Train store is also planned.

The design includes a broad palette of building materials that’s becoming more common for shopping centers whose managers are seeking to create a more visually appealing, Main Street feel – and to appease national retailers whose design concepts don’t always fit neatly into a uniform shopping center design. Catellus is also planning public gathering spaces with benches and climbing rocks and game tables nestled under Mexican fan palms adorned with string lights intended to create “a nice, soft glow.”

“The goal is to make this a very special place with a lot of great things to do,” Whiskeman said, and not just a place where people come to buy things.

But some residents from the adjacent Bayport development said they’re concerned the new stores could bring more crime into their neighborhood, and they sought assurances that security would be hired for the shopping center. Residents held a meeting with police in late June following a spate of break-ins; a June 30 message from police said evening break-ins had increased citywide.

“We have private streets and security,” Bayport resident Cliff Tong said. “Are there measures the developer will take to enhance security?”

Board member Lorre Zuppan asked what assurances the city will have that the tables, trees and other amenities to be installed at the shopping center will be maintained.

Whiskeman said the shopping center will have security as needed and that maintenance standards are included in the covenants, conditions and restrictions that were recorded with the deed to the property.

“The shopping center, once up and operational, will be professionally managed (and) maintained in a first class way,” he said.

Separately, the board agreed to allow a Safeway store to be constructed as part of the shopping center to remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Delivery trucks would only be permitted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Zuppan said she wanted more justification for Safeway to be 24 hours a day, saying it will be closer to residences than the Safeway at Alameda South Shore Center – which is also open 24/7 – and could attract more customers from other areas than the South Shore store. But board member Dania Alvarez-Morroni said the grocery chain might not get the late-night customers they’re anticipating.

The Safeway store in the Harbor Bay Landing Shopping Center, for example, closes at midnight each night, as does the Lucky supermarket in Marina Village.

The permit allowing 24-hour operation will be automatically reviewed by the board after the store has been operating for a year. The review was proposed by Thomas after some neighbors of the project who live in the nearby Bayport and Marina Village developments said they’re concerned about the noise it could generate.

The board’s discussion regarding a proposed In-N-Out Burger, Safeway gas station and Chase bank branch that would sit on 2.3 acres opposite the shopping center was postponed to July 22. Hundreds of people have signed a petition opposing the plan, saying they want something more attractive at one of Alameda’s primary gateways.

At an earlier hearing, board members made it clear they don’t plan to sign off on one request – that the gas station be permitted to sell alcohol. Catellus is also asking that In-N-Out Burger be allowed to remain open until 2 a.m., and that the gas station, like the Safeway store, be permitted to remain open 24 hours a day.

“We acknowledge that Alamedans are excited about In N Out coming to Alameda, but this parcel is not the right location for that,” says the petition from Valerie Villaraza-Steele, which had been signed by 235 people as of Monday night. “This is our community’s opportunity to create a gateway to Alameda that is attractive to potential residents, investors, and visitors, and showcases our city as a unique place to visit and live.”


Mpomeroy's picture
Submitted by Mpomeroy on Tue, Jul 9, 2013

Wow! This thing will be huge! Do they not see that we already have a big supermarket just across the road? Definitely this is about attracting shoppers from off island, all of whom will have to go through the tube. City council has a very short memory when it comes to retail. South Shore decimated Park Street, which is why there are still so many 3rd class businesses there.
Why not charge a toll to go through the tunnel? Residents could be exempt, and the revenue could be used for the inevitable expansion in 2020 .

nynan45's picture
Submitted by nynan45 on Tue, Jul 9, 2013

Here we go again. The Alameda merry-go-round is spinning for the umpteeth time. Hasn't anyone heard that shopping centers are o-u-t? .No matter how 'pretty' and gussied up, shopping centers are on the wane. Plus, Alameda is getting low-end shops. All cities have a grade-similar to a fico score that shopping center planners and developers use. Alameda got a C- years ago and I can see it still does. Michaels? Are they kidding? Poor little Alameda-a pretty place run by fools