Shifts in retail landscape alter Alameda Landing plan

Shifts in retail landscape alter Alameda Landing plan

Michele Ellson

The developers of the Alameda Landing project have made some tweaks to their retail strategy that they hope will maximize their chances of filling a planned 285,000-square-foot shopping center behind the College of Alameda – and raise Alameda’s sales tax revenues by up to a half million dollars a year.

The 140,000-square-foot Target store set to anchor the shopping center is now being built and is expected to open in the fall of 2013. And consultants working for Landing developer Catellus think the center could become home to a building and garden supply store like OSH, clothing shops, restaurants, a furniture store – and a specialty grocery store like Whole Foods – in 2014 and 2015.

The Planning Board will tackle changes to the retail strategy Monday, and the City Council is set to consider it for approval on November 7.

In 2006, Catellus and its consultants deleted the possibility of a grocery store from the developer’s strategy for filling the shopping center, saying Alameda’s grocery market was “saturated” even before the redevelopment of the Bridgeside Shopping Center, which included a new Nob Hill store. The developer had made a deal with the West Alameda Business Association to forgo a grocery store because the business association hoped to locate one at the foot of Webster Street in order to jump-start a revitalization of the business district.

But during the three years the project was dormant, a number of the stores Catellus thought they’d lure to the center closed their brick-and-mortar operations and went online or disappeared entirely under the weight of bankruptcy. The developer had anticipated bringing an electronics store and bookstore to Alameda Landing, but two of the three electronics stores it was considering – Circuit City and CompUSA – shuttered stores; Borders, one of the booksellers it was considering, declared bankruptcy and shut down its Alameda South Shore Center after less than three years at that location.

Catellus’ consultants are now saying that a specialty grocery store like Whole Foods – which has been a bright spot for this sales tax-challenged city – could be a draw for off-Island shoppers and those in the West End, whose numbers are poised to grow with 300 homes expected to be built as part of the Landing project and about 1,400 more anticipated at Alameda Point.

“This lack of equal distribution of food stores in Alameda suggests that a food retailer at Alameda Landing will be well poised to serve existing and especially future demand given long-term growth prospects for the western part of the Island,” the new retail strategy says.

The store could also be a draw for other upscale retailers Catellus hopes to draw to the center. While the developer’s consultants believe the center would far well with more “conventional” shops like Starbucks, Panera Bread, Sports Authority and Tuesday Morning, they said a specialty grocer could attract higher-end specialty shops like Peet’s Coffee & Tea, La Boulange, REI and Restoration Hardware.

The caliber of retailers the development is able to draw could have measurable impacts on the amount of sales tax revenue the city earns. Alameda’s per-capita sales tax take is among the lowest in the county.

In 2010 Alameda had a sales base of $540 million, but the consultant’s reports indicate the city may be losing a lot more. It estimates that Alameda’s average household spends nearly $30,000 a year on retail goods, with more than $13,000 of that buying items in off-Island shops.

Alameda loses 80 percent or more of the money its residents spend on general merchandise, cars and car parts and building and garden supplies, or a total of $330 million a year in sales, the strategy’s authors wrote.

While the car dealerships left Alameda for freeway frontage and seem unlikely to return, Catellus’ consultants believe that the arrival of Target will slow the off-Island purchase of the general merchandise the big-box retailer sells.

In a November 2011 analysis, the developer’s consultants said they think the new shopping center can generate a total of $93 million a year in sales from residents of Alameda and some of the Oakland neighborhoods that border the Island, about $43 million of it revenue that would otherwise have been spent off-Island.

The numbers are based on the amount of money per square foot different stores earn. Target stores earn an average of $282 per square foot, while Anthropologie takes in $705 per square foot and Trader Joe’s, $1,941, the retail strategy says.

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. The meeting will be broadcast on cable channel 15.

Comments

Submitted by Karen Bey on Mon, Oct 8, 2012

This is a really great study --- and the West End definately needs a more high end grocer, but I'm curious what grocer Catellus is proposing for Alameda Landing?