Pleasant Valley Safeway gets design review on Wednesday

UPDATE, 12/08/10: This meeting has been canceled. I’ll post about it again when it gets rescheduled.

On Wednesday, the Oakland Planning Commission’s Design Review Committee will consider the current design proposal for the rebuilt Safeway at 51st and Broadway.

If you haven’t been by recently, what’s there right now is basically a suburban strip mall surrounded by a sea of surface parking. It contains 185,000 square feet of retail space and 667 parking spaces.

Pleasant Valley Safeway Current Aerial View

As you may recall, Safeway’s original plans for this site (PDF) went over pretty poorly when they were unveiled back in June of 2009. They essentially proposed replacing the existing suburban strip mall with a new one.

Pleasant Valley Safeway 2009 Proposal

Feedback from community members who attended Safeway’s community meetings on the project appeared to be pretty much universally negative, which prompted Becks at Living in the O to ask her readers what they’d like to see at the site. The plan was so at odds with what North Oakland community members envisioned for their neighborhood that STAND, ULTRA, and the RCPC all came together to voice their opposition to the proposal:

This proposal is so offensive and so disrespectful of our city and our neighborhoods that it has managed to unite in opposition all the neighborhood groups who until now had been on opposite sides of the various development debates in north Oakland these past four years.

Additional concerns were raised about how the proposal related to the Oakland Retail Strategy, which identified this location (PDF) as one of five key opportunity nodes in the City, calling for increased intensity of use at this location. (The retail strategy Illustrative Design Plan (PDF) further details this vision for the site (PDF).)

Eric from Transbay Blog joined the chorus of voices criticizing the plans, offering:

The design is, unfortunately, flawed. It basically perpetuates the current design, by maintaining long, squat buildings that surround the surface parking lot. It does add office space, and it fills in the perimeter of the site. But buildings remain set back from the street, offset by landscaping, and the prominence of the central parking lot is maintained; moreover, additional parking is added to the roof of the Safeway. In other words, the design remains wholly suburban. Pedestrian access to the shopping center is currently pretty miserable — sidewalks at the entry and exit points break off for the convenience of automobile navigation, or are omitted altogether. Based on these sketches, the new design does not completely address that problem either, except for including a few colored crosswalks.

He was moved to share his own alternative vision for the project, which involved scrapping the surface parking, extending the street grid through the site, and filling it will dense housing atop ground-floor retail.

Transbay Blog alternative vision for Pleasant Valley Safeway site

The project came before the Planning Commission in July of 2009 (PDF) for an EIR Scoping Session (PDF), and the Commissioners didn’t like it any more that anybody else had.

After taking the robust criticism from pretty much everyone into account, Safeway has revised their site plans. The proposed square footage of commercial space in the new plan is slightly less than what they had proposed last year (296,000 sf versus 304,000 sf) and includes slightly less parking (971 versus 1,0006 spaces). The Safeway stores itself would be increased in size from 48,000 sf at the existing building to 65,000 square feet at the new one.

In the revised plans, the buildings are no longer set way back from Broadway. The height is increased at the corner of Broadway and Pleasant Valley (to 70 feet), and much of the parking has been moved from the ground to a three story parking structure on top of ground floor retail.

December 2010 Plesant Valley Safeway Proposal

Proposed Pleasant Valley Safety rendering

It’s definitely an improvement. But is it good enough? The staff report (PDF) for Wednesday’s meeting suggests there is more work to be done:

The proposed buildings incorporate a variety of articulations, materials, textures, and colors. The result visually breaks apart the building masses into smaller pieces, thereby reducing the perceived bulk of the project. However, all the varied architectural elements and treatments lead to a somewhat random and chaotic look for the project. The result is a large development with repetitive and overwhelming variation. Along Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue, staff believes the project would benefit from a design that reduces the widespread variability and presents an appearance of two or three individual buildings, each internally cohesive and distinct but related to adjacent buildings. Staff also believes the façade directly at the corner of Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue is arguably the most visually prominent and symbolically important area of the project as the anchor of one of the corners of the intersection, yet the design is too understated. The façade is somewhat flat and the downward sloping roof planes downplay the prominence of the corner. Staff believes the design would benefit if the architecture at the corner is more noteworthy and memorable.

What do you think? You can get a better idea of what’s being proposed from the renderings pictured below, all taken from the staff report (PDF) for Wednesday’s meeting.

[slideshow post_id=5481]

The elevations were too hard to read in any picture small enough to fit on the blog, so download the staff report (PDF) if you want to examine those. For my part, I wish the renderings didn’t make it look like this shopping center is being plopped in the middle of some big meadow or something. Having to sit there and try to envision what it looks like across the street in every damn slide gives me a headache.

If you want to weigh in on the plans yourself, or just see what the Design Review Committee members have to say, the meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 8th at 5:00 PM at Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1.

56 thoughts on “Pleasant Valley Safeway gets design review on Wednesday

  1. Jess L.

    Wait, is the big CVS (/Longs/Payless/etc) definitely closing? I’m just catching up on this whole issue – we only moved to this area in February and the presence of Big CVS was a big factor in choosing this neighborhood. Not having to drive to target in Albany is really useful, plus they haven’t favorite local garden nursery. I’m usually there weekly for some reason or other. OTOH, I think I have shopped at that Safeway maaaaaybe twice since we moved here. Do Not Like.

  2. Chuck

    We’ve been mourning the loss of Super Long’s for years now, Jess. So sorry to hear you’ve only now learned of it :-\

  3. ralph

    Even for the old corporate owners, the Super Longs was a bit of an anomaly. The new Safeway model which is moving towards the god’s gift to grocery shopping Wegmans model requires more space. Also need to consider that this Safeway also serves Rockridge, JLS, Uptown, Piedmont Ave, and Grand Ave. The Grand Avenue Safeway is too small and not getting bigger anytime soon. With a new Target opening in the old Expo spot in Emeryville, this is nothing but plusses all around.

    I am not sure how I feel about all this parking in front.

  4. Max Allstadt

    I’m with you on the “plopped in the meadow” thing, V.

    One more reason that large projects should at least have to submit a massing model that can be viewed in google earth.

    To their credit, they make an attempt to depict the fairly dramatic topography surrounding the site. They got the heights of the cliffs, I think, but c’mon, we all know they aren’t covered in greenery.

  5. ralph

    I should edit my plusses all around. I prefer the bigger Safeway but I haven’t been able to invest time to evaluate the overall project with the neighborhood.

    Max,
    Are you referring to the creek areas? I thought the greenery was being added as part of the project.

  6. Dax

    V, Nice presentation of a presentation.

    What’s that structure in the middle of the parking lot?

    Looks like a gas station or a bank with drive up ATMs.

    Perhaps something should be included for recreation.
    How about having a rowboat concession for people to float about in the quarry?
    It could be stocked with fish.
    Right now it looks like a putting green with the beautiful layer of algae floating on top.

    Can’t row? Come visit on Jet-Ski Tuesdays and Fridays.

  7. Max Allstadt

    Ralph, I was talking about the cliffs on the north side of the site. Incidentally, I think they should look at putting a staircase into the cliffs if they haven’t already. Direct access to the site for CCA students would be good.

  8. Andrew Alden

    I would love a stairway up there, too, but I’m sure it won’t happen. No one that I know of is addressing the old quarry walls, which are NOT guaranteed to stand forever. Actually I think the walls around the pit are OK, but the walls around CCA are in different rock that is visibly crumbling; just walk around the back and see for yourself. The next big earthquake will leave a lot of rubble there.

  9. Chris Kidd

    I would love to see a road diet along Broadway to calm what is essentially a mini-freeway (especially for the downhill drivers). Creating pedestrian friendly designs and facades are all well and good, but they’re only half the answer. Who’s going to want to walk and shop along Broadway with cars roaring by at 45+mph?

  10. PRE

    “The Grand Avenue Safeway is too small and not getting bigger anytime soon. With a new Target opening in the old Expo spot in Emeryville, this is nothing but plusses all around.”

    I don’t believe this is plusses all around at all. At least the Grand Ave Safeway wasn’t super-ghetto, and the CVS (ne Longs) has a great garden center and you can buy some things in Oakland without having to enter the crazy-zone over in Emeryville.

    Now with the CVS moving out I’ll be forced to drive over to Target (which is actually in Oakland at least). I’m gonna miss that garden center big time.

    Broadway is one empty former car lot after another – when is retail ever going to move down that way, now that restaurants seem to have discovered it? Can someone please just burn Biffs down and put something useful there?

  11. len raphael

    this is a complete rout of the planning dept and the residents. Everyone except for the owners and maybe Safeway wanted high density mixed use. Instead we’ll get a low rise spread at a location that would have easily attracted a mix of market and affordable residents.

    -len raphael, temescal

  12. ralph

    Chris,
    Telegraph and Broadway are indeed freeways pretending to be what most people think of as a “city street.” That being said people in othe parts of this country do walk along busy streets. Not saying it is right and I personally hate the width of both of these streets but it happens.

    I should retract my plusses all around comment. I like this as a good starting point. I am not totally sold as it reminds me of the Fremont Hub. The only real plus of the design it gets me a bigger Safeway. (This coming from a guy who gets his groceries delivered.)

  13. Naomi Schiff

    To me, the current Safeway is already large, filled with things I don’t buy, and not at all lovely. It’s a hike to get to the door, and then another hike from onions to cottage cheese or whatever. Mostly I don’t go there. We go to the little one on Grand sometimes. This design is still missing the point, as others have said. (By the way, does everyone know about the swallows that build their amazing nests each spring, on the quarry walls?) We need a replacement for the former Long’s/soon to be former CVS, including a nursery, and all those incredible miscellaneous sundries, and it should go on Broadway on one of the empty spots. What entrepreneur will take this on as a challenge? Of course losing the CVS store will reduce the no. of customers coming to the Safeway, but the mgmt hasn’t figured that out yet. They think everyone will buy everything at their store, but I’m not so sure that is the case.

  14. ralph

    Am I missing something regarding the CVS? The plan as far as I know has been to remain in the new complex but have a footprint that is consistent with their store philosophy.

    Safeway is not trying to be the everything store. But I do beleive the Danny Wegman model is what they are trying to achieve. Grocery as community. I would be happy to lose a Safeway and gain a Wegmans.

    Will a standalone nursery survive in that complex?

  15. DD

    Dax — When Safeway presented this design to RCPC a few months back, they said that the only way that Chase would agree to give up their lease of the main corner bldg @ B’way & P.V. was in exchange for a detached structure with drive-up parking.

    Aside from my general dismay at hearing for certain that Big CVS is not long for this world, I had two strong feelings after the RCPC presentation:

    1.) CVS aside, it’s a shame that Safeway is planning the put grocery store at the furthest possible point from transit and sidewalks. Apparently AC Transit is extremely reluctant to consider a transit stop inside the center, but that is a *really* long walk from the bus! The trees along the center path and promenade along the quarry pit are not much better than what we have today. I know there is pressure to re-use as much existing structure as possible, but I would LOVE to see the store upfront and the parking behind. Or at least put Chase in the middle of the sea of parking, and put some other buildings with continuous facade between the two driveways on that side. Then again, maybe the damage to that section has already been done with the AAA remodel… *sigh*

    2.) On a more positive side, I think the SW corner is looking *much* better, especially on the Broadway side! I am glad that staff has noted the need to address the architectural elements. While I do think the main corner should be significant, I also think it needs to be inviting at the human scale. I recently rode by and the new lighted Chase signage really dominates the corner. I hope that staff’s suggestion of ‘noteworthy and memorable’ is interpreted as less bossy and more welcoming, rather than permission to tower over the intersection–I am sure it is possible to strike a balance here, though I wish I had more specific ideas…

    Also, pro-ped folks should be aware that the (limited) pedestrian access and (suburban-style) street-facing treatments along the Pleasant Valley frontage could use some improvement for true walkability, especially if the Chase Bank stays as-proposed. I am sympathetic to the architect’s point that the grading is very challenging in that area, but even if there is no true access to pedestrians, we should have shop window displays, a little park-let, or something that makes people enjoy that long, long walk to get their groceries.

    My two cents, which I hope to present tomorrow night–see you there!

  16. art

    @Born in Oakland, the new Target that’s going in on 40th Street is technically in Oakland—though Oakland and Emeryville actually split the tax revenue of that complex.

  17. Born in Oakland

    Thanks Pre. But damn, if it IS technically in Oakland then why are we splitting the tax revenue? Streets? Emeryville Police? Emeryville has lots of tax revenue and we have not so much.

    By the way, for all you already missing the nursery at CVS….Ace Hardware on Grand has a great nursery but parking sucks. Home Depot off Fruitvale has a large nursery section that isn’t too bad and there is lots of parking. Keep those tax dollars in Oakland.

  18. art

    Re: the split tax revenue, the East BayBridge development is partly in Emeryville and partly in Oakland. The cities agreed to jointly develop it and then share the revenues in order to give the big box stores the large lots and parking that they needed. I seem to remember that one of the stores is all the way in Oakland and not officially part of the development, and thus not subject to the split, but can’t remember which one…

    Speaking of stores on property lines, though….anyone know what the situation with the Grand Lake Ace tax revenue is? That’s our go-to hardware store, and I’ve always wondered….the hardware store is in Piedmont, while the nursery’s in Oakland but uses the Piedmont address of the main store, I think? So where do those dollars go?

  19. Don

    The redo is little more than an overlarge half-accommodation to the Bay Street style of suburban mall development, and it’s still a terrible fit. Eric’s sketch, however, is almost exactly what I’ve daydreamed seeing there for the last 12 years (with the addition of a staircase up the hill to an expropriated country club turned into public park – I can dream, can’t I?)

    This is the kind of development that kills walkable neighborhoods. All over N Oakland are streetcorners and short stretches of former streetcar routes with abandoned or underused retail storefronts. As long as these aren’t occupied by real and needed neighborhood businesses, people will have to drive. And as long as category-killers get to build out little Walnut Creeks like this, smaller businesses won’t be able to make a go of it.

    I’d much rather see underground parking, mixed-use, and retail development fronting solely or primarily on B’way and PV (it’s not ped-friendly to walk that far through a parking lot), with at least some retail transferred to empty or underused buildings/lots across the streets, and with Broadway narrrowed above PV – it’s not the route to the Caldecott Tunnel any more and is stupidly wide.

  20. Naomi Schiff

    Right! The Long’s/Payless/CVS variety store replacement is just waiting for the right entrepreneur who gets it to locate on Broadway and reestablish this much-needed humble-sundries retail. We aren’t going to go to Safeway for this stuff.

    I may be slightly wrong about the following, but here’s something to research: I dimly remember hearing that Broadway is a designated state highway, and that for reasons having to do with state funding, it might require re-designating it in order to narrow it slightly and make it a friendlier more urban sort of street. That is, there are state regs that are keeping it at its awkward width. In particular, the huge PV Broadway intersection is ridiculously wide. (Lost a clutch in it once, and had a really exciting time getting the car out of the way.)

  21. ralph

    Either I have not lived here Long enough to appreciate the Super Longs or found it to be a terrible idea as part of the Long’s family. As a shareholder, I would find it to be a drain on corporate resources. You won’t be going to Safeway to buy this stuff because Safeway isn’t in the business of selling that stuff. But wasn’t the CVS slated to stay in that plaza following the remodel. The neighborhood lacks a drugstore.

    I have no idea why someone would try to duplicate the Super Longs.

  22. Kent L.

    I’m with Naomi all the way. The “Super Longs” has always been a fantastic place where I can go buy sundries I would otherwise have to drive to Target in Albany or elsewhere for. For instance, I got a juice maker there, various items for my kitchen, have renewed my fishing license, and bought garden tools and plants, just to name a few things. This past weekend their Christmas trees appeared to be selling briskly. Maybe some of the space is underutilized / filled with things that don’t sell much, but I have NEVER had the impression that the present store is empty or under-visited. It is actually a gem and an asset to the neighborhood. If shareholders don’t agree, then complain to your CEO. However I would think that CVS would never have taken over that property if they were losing money on it.

    All in all, in my opinion the present mix of stores serve many needs, get traffic, and appear to have stable tenants. With some improvements for pedestrian access, the present location and configuration could continue to thrive without much modification at all. I don’t object to new retail space or office properties, so long as they don’t make the Safeway and CVS more inaccessible for peds and bicyclists than they already are. And judging fromt he designs submitted so far, it will become more inaccessible and less friendly for pedestrians. Call me a holdover.

  23. livegreen

    It is indeed the intersection of two freeways.

    BTW (as Naomi alludes to) this store is the lone holdout of the old Payless model. All other similar Payless stores were closed down by Longs years ago (don’t know why this one held over, lease, volume or other).

    It was simply not in the Longs model, and whether they made sense or money had nothing to do with it.

  24. ralph

    LG,
    Trying to decipher what you wrote but I am coming up with goose eggs.

    Kent,
    Not sure what you are talking about either with the complain to the CEO. Not like CVS bought one store, they bought Longs.

    All,
    What is saying when you start dreaming about a pedestrian friendly PV Safeway?

    Does it make sense for all the land which is devoted to parking be devoted to stores and open space with parking on the periphery and behind and above stores?

  25. wefightblight

    NS

    Not likely Broadway is still part of the state highway system like Ashby Avenue. If it once was part of the state highway system, it may have been be relinquished to the City many years ago to be operated as a local road. The configuration of Asbhy is still controlled by Caltrans. Look at any map–google, AAA, etc. and if it is part of the state or interstate highway system it would have a number. See this link for more historical information on state highways/interstate freeways in California–http://www.cahighways.org/state.html

  26. livegreen

    Ralph, Although I don’t know what other Payless stores used to look like, I believe they were similar to this store. When Longs took them over my understanding is they shrunk all the other Payless stores, or closed them down. Except for this one (and I’m not sure why that is: length of the lease, or the sales volume, or other reason).

    The Longs model (as with CVS) is core drug stores & a few sundries. Not the larger stores.

  27. charlie s

    I agree with the many people who comment that they’ll sorely miss the Super Long’s and feel lukewarm, at best, toward Safeway. This is the only department store in Oakland, really, and for my friends and neighbors who shop there a lot, losing it means a long drive elsewhere. The garden center alone is a good reason to patronize this store.

  28. ralph

    LG,
    I think I see the error in my understanding. PayLess the son of Thrifty is significantly different than Payless the store for shoes. Yes, the PayLess model was not a drug-store model such as Longs, CVS, Walgreens. It was more KMart.

    Now if someone can explain to me why people are lukewarm towards Safeway, I’d greatly appreciate it. People need groceries. People in West Oakland would probably kill to have a Safeway just to be lukewarm about.

  29. Naomi Schiff

    For me, I’d be happier if they stuck to groceries and basic food products, and didn’t make the store any larger with not-so-healthy highly processed stuff that takes up enormous acreage even in the present store. You have to walk a long way to get around the store, and then you end up at a pretty slow check out. I liked Safeway a lot more when it was smaller. Probably many of you don’t remember that this store grew a lot at some point, when it was redesigned. Can’t remember when that happened, but Len probably does.

  30. Jim

    Target will open at the old Home Expo site. It is probably as good as Longs except for material, fishing gear, and plants. Ace has the plants, and Sports Authority has the gear. Don’t know what to do about the fabric.

  31. lovica

    There’s a good fabric store on Piedmont. Probably not as cheap as what you could find at the Super Longs, but it’s like a smaller version of what Poppy was.

  32. Naomi Schiff

    The drawback of the new Target is most will pretty much have to drive there, and it is not close to a large population that needs a few little things.

  33. Naomi Schiff

    Plus, let’s not forget P.V. thrifty/payless/cvs–OPEN 24 hours (or at times, only just very late). It was so good for emergency acquisition of forgotten elements needed for the last-minute completion of school projects. Or for some weird item required for ersatz home repair. In addition to cold remedies and such.

  34. ralph

    Does the Emeryville Bus stop by the former Home Expo? I thought it made stop on the other side of San Pablo. if one is walking to PV Safeway from the lake area, then one can probably manage the walk, BART, bus trip.

    A larger Safeway is good for the community. I suspect there will be more room for sit down eating. A better self check-out. More efficient lighting. Tasting areas. The small Safeway on Grand is a bad model. It does not stock a wide variety.

  35. 1Reclaimation Project

    Thanks for the good links to the background info to catch up on this important site/area.

    Just coming from Seattle, I am jaw-dropped by the proposals’ – even the Illustrative Plan’s – commitment to parking and the absence of an innovative thought. In this neighborhood? In this potential village-retail market?

    My first questions are:

    1. Where are the good developers who know they can do it better and make more money?

    A simultaneous Safeway upgrade from Seattle (with the exact same but smaller progressive/auto-oriented urban residential market) just recently got approved and I find it an interesting comparison. It’s parking ratio is much smaller, it seems much more flexible at densifying over time, and it commits way more to the public realm frontage than Oakland’s (not that it still doesn’t lack in many ways too). See here to compare if you like:

    http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/AppDocs/GroupMeetings/DRProposal3008002AgendaID2860.pdf

    2. Where’s the targeted City of Oakland’s and Alameda County’s strategy for shaping development here?

    I’m aware of a conservatively-assessed broad brush pro forma effort (Illustrative Plan), this area’s inclusion in a largely unfunded paving and bike/ped program (City of Oakland), and the fact that AC Transit is broke. Am I missing something more visionary or coherent that’s out there?

  36. Naomi Schiff

    No, you aren’t missing anything. No one yet has called this plan visionary or coherent, as far as I know. It’s pretty dumb. For all the talk about “infill” and all the love of urbanism, it’s a relatively suburban and small-town concept.

  37. Max Allstadt

    It is rather difficult, in all fairness, to create a plan that is not suburban on a site bounded on all four sides by suburban or non-urban features.

    A quarry to the east, a cliff with a college atop it to the north, and to the west and south are avenues. Avenues in the Los Angeles since of the term, meaning “freeways with occasional traffic lights”.

    The closest spot to the site where you can feel like you’re in an actual neighborhood is the corner of Desmond and Coronado, and that is particularly suburban too.

  38. Naomi Schiff

    Well yes and no. What about the apartment buildings lining Pleasant Valley across from the site? Not undense. And, site is on a major busline. But I agree, the whole enterprise should be moved to downtown Oakland. Not likely, however.

    I think one problem is the vast width of the intersection, as remarked upon a week or two ago. Which is also difficult to cross, as a pedestrian.

  39. ralph

    I certainly will not complain if someone wants to move a Safeway into downtown Oakland. But given that Safeway has rights at PV I am not going to dwell too much on the what if.

    But to the pedestrian point, I think if we are going to strive for multi-generational pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, then we need to have crossing signals that support such a goal. I can tell you that Harrison/Grand fails and it appears that there are others.

  40. 1Reclaimation Project

    I don’t buy the suburban perimeter argument. I’ve seen greenfield developments way outside the city look a lot more urban than this. Plus its feet from Broadway and College.

    If this development is to move forward, and if there is to be no public vision or investment to push it in the right direction, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Commit to reducing the parking, establishing a skeleton of a street grid, and hold the urban edge better. It’s sad there’s no transit or more housing or intersection improvements, but those can come in the future.

  41. Annalee Allen

    for me, at the end of the day working hard celebrating Oakland’s downtown landmarks, I just want to pull in, buy my provisions at safeway and go on home. Just leave it as it is (guess that’s too much to hope for, sigh). Oh and sometimes on Saturdays, I treat myself to some plant or other at cvs. For me the present layout works just fine. Not looking forward to all the disruption and not convinced at all that it is necessary.

  42. Dax

    Will a “giant” size Safeway have cheaper prices than a small Safeway?

    I know when Trader Joes carried Grace Baking bread under the Grace label, that the same loaf cost $1.00 more in Safeway.
    Now, Trader Joes has the same bread, baked by Grace, but in a TJ bag.
    They also have Acme bread in the TJ bag.

    BTW, I don’t see any location in the Broadway center that could accommodate a bowling alley.
    Does Oakland have even one bowling alley any more?

    I think they’ve all be converted to churches.

  43. ralph

    A bowling alley has been proposed as part of a new development on San Pablo.

    Safeway prices should be consistent across store size in a given region. The current location is too small to serve the mutiple neighborhoods surrounding it.

  44. len raphael

    RProject, a land use attorney neighbor of mine on desmond street had the same discussion about higher and better and denser uses of that site. the attorney laughed at my theory that it (A) it wb hard to find a for profit developer to take on a mixed used project at the site with safeway as the anchor retail store. and (B) the city couldn’t force an owner to go mixed use in this situation.

    Response was: (A) attorney knew of least two clients who would capable and interested in a prime location like that with a secure anchor, so there must be others.
    and (B) there are many ways the city can make strongly nudge an owner to go mixed/use; and make their life miserable if they don’t.

    i brought that up to zoing staff months ago and was told the owner (not safeway) simply doesn’t want the hassle of owning anything other than a strip mall.

    Comes down to our city’s leaders same old lack of vision combined with political courage. plus an inferiority complex.

    -len raphael, temescal

  45. len raphael

    Since the PV Safeway is going to be a pedestrian disaster no matter what, how about turning the 51 and bw intersection into a traffic circle/roundabout? That would be better for cyclists. Make the few pedestrians, like me, cross further away.

  46. ralph

    Len,
    I thought there was a provision in the lease that prevented Safeway from developing residential housing.

  47. len raphael

    Ralph, i’m sure there is such a clause. everything’s negotiable when the lessor and the lessee both need each other, and the city plus most of the residents unite to make life difficult for the lessor and lessee to rebuild. Call their bluff to see if they’ll refuse to rebuild anything.

    But then, this city is not so hot at negotiating anything, be it football stadiums or labor contracts.

    -len raphael, temescal