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May 15, 2010

Grocery store, not housing, proposed for old Co-op site

If you live on the north end of Walnut Creek, west of Interstate 680: Which would you prefer to see replace that blighted eyesore known as the old Co-op site?

A new mixed-used housing/retail complex? Or a new grocery store?

What’s best for the city overall? More housing, including affordable housing? Or more commercial space—including this new grocery store and parking lot?

Under a new proposal, there won’t be any new housing going up on that site along Geary Road, near North Main Street.

The very busy developer, Hall Equities Group (the company has two other major developments in the pipeline in Walnut Creek that I know of), has proposed razing the old Co-op at 1510 Geary Road and putting up a new commercial complex. Three buildings, totaling around 34,000-square feet, would go up only on a little more than 2-1/2 acres. The new grocery store would be about 25,000 square feet.

Hall Equities has filed a "pre-application request" for the project, asking for a General Plan amendment. The site, which consists of two parcels put together, is designated for "mixed-use residential." Hall Equities needs that land use designation to change to "commercial."  The City Council is to review this General Plan amendment request at its meeting Tuesday night

The Co-op closed down in the 1970s, and has been vacant ever since, according to a Community Development staff report. Development of the site has been complicated by height restrictions imposed by Measure A.  A new structure there can only be 20 feet high, a restriction that city staff says limits its potential as a site for a new housing complex.

The report says:

“In many ways, the project site would be an excellent location for residential or mixed use development. It is large enough to accommodate a medium-density residential development, 22 to 30 units per acre. It is close to BART and near existing residential multi-family and senior housing.”

By the way, I don’t remember ever going to that Co-op when I was growing up in Walnut Creek. Kind of out of our way. But wasn’t there a Co-op in the spot where Ross Dress for Less is now? I have vague memories of that…

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Co-Op on Geary Road closed down in the late 80s. I remember because my family shopped there up until the very end. It has been boarded up ever since that time. There was another Co-Op in downtown Walnut Creek where Ross is currently located.

Anonymous said...

A grocery store would be perfect. In fact I have been meaning to write Trader Joe's to propose they look at the location. Love Lunardi's and would not want to hurt their business but it seems that a TJ's would be a good compromise.

Anonymous said...

Been hoping for a grocery here again. I really miss the old Geary Co-op. Lundardi's is great, but would love to have a grocery closer to that part of North Main.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have a grocery there. Why not move Walnut Creek's Whole Foods from its current cramped location to this particular spot. I went to WF yesterday, and after driving around for a while in that awful parking lot, I left. I went to Diablo Foods where I was in and out within minutes.

Anonymous said...

It would be great to see something on this site. It has been vacant for way too long. One challenge will be the traffic at Geary and N. Main, which I would imagine is one of the busiest in the City.

I will also be interested to see what th3e developer plans for ingress and egress to the site as you can only exit west onto Geary from that property. The bad thing would be if patrons leaving the site would start making U-turns on Geary or use the side streets as pass-thrus, thus increasing the area's residential traffic.

Anonymous said...

Great site for a bowling alley or roller/ice rink.

Geary Rhoder said...

There are probably issues with toxic waste since there used to be a gas station on that property (also owned/run by Co-Op).

POP QUIZ re: Geary Road Co-Op:
1. Does anybody remember their Co-Op number?
2. What was the bank called that was inside Co-Op?
3. What was the free childcare service inside Co-Op called?
4. What does Co-Op mean? What does it stand for?
5. Who was on the Co-Op Board in 1969?
6. Did the Co-Op ever have any special events? If so, what and when?
7. What was the name of the Lunch Counter at the Co-Op?
8. Did you ever sell or seek anything from the Un-Classified Ad board?
9. How did Co-Op decide the size of the rebate each year?
10. What other services could you receive inside a Co-Op?

Anonymous said...

This makes me sad. Mixed-use developments offer the chance for both housing and retail options. On top of that, people actually like living in close proximity to public transit (BART). The increased density close to transit can help with traffic issues and more importantly, will help foster a walkable community with a neighborhood feel--something that area of the city so desperately needs.

Anonymous said...

Whatever goes there should have a zone for the environment, such as trees, native habitat or the like.

Also, the parking area should include swales in the design. This is a minimal investment for the developer, but a significant improvement to all the parking run-off we produce.

Anonymous said...

6:06 & 6:43,

Measure A height limits killed off most possible flexibility in projects. If the property owners cannot build over 20 feet in height, their options are very limited.

Anonymous said...

I know how about a new 19.5' tall Library! Or a secondary transit village!

Anonymous said...

We could definitely use a grocery in that area.

Also, what sort of retail is going into the Pleasant Hill transit village when that's completed? Are they waiting for retailers to sign leases for those for down the road, or have any retailers already committed to that space?

obiwan said...

If the owners of the Co-op site had taken the shell of the store and subdivided the space into a little mini-mall for service businesses like hair dressers, tailors, print shops, etc. they would have been collecting rent for the last 30 years. Instead, they moan about Measure A. The problem is the mindset that says everything in this town has to be on a grand scale.

Anonymous said...

The previous owner of the Co-Op property, Pleasant Creek, was a dead beat. They simply asked for too much money for a property burdened (by the all knowing voters who passed the Measure A Initiative) with a 20-foot height limit.

It never penciled out until recently so WC was stuck with a decrepit looking property for the last 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there were two Co-Ops. A smaller one where Ross is. I think the return of a grocery store would be great. Walnut Creek has been left with Safeway x4 and more expensive grocery stores like Lunardi's, Nob Hill, Whole Foods and the Specialty Trader Joe's. Having grown up in Walnut Creek, I rembember having so much more choice/competition in grocery stores: The original Lucky's where Nordstrom is (before Bullock's came in), the Lo-Ray (later Alpha-Beta, later Ralphs, then Lucky's) where Trader Joe's is, the two Co-Ops, the additional Lucky's inside Gemco, Albertson's where Bev-Mo is, another Lucky's where Walgreen's is, Alpha Beta out past John Muir, Encina Grande Safeway, and the Safeway where Chase (Home Savings, WaMu) is now. Later the Countrywood Safeway was added, downtown Safeway relocated, plus we have the Rossmoor Safeway. Were there any more? Eleven everyday Grocery stores in all before the mergers, buyouts and closures and recent construction: Safeway-3, Lucky-3, Co-Op-2, Albertsons-1, Lo-Ray-1, Alpha Beta-1.

Anonymous said...

We need a Sonic! A bowling alley would also be good.

Dan Simoes said...

We recently moved to the area and I think either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods would be ideally suited. The Safeway in that area is small, and Lunardi's is small and overpriced.
I wonder if any kind of grocery is going into the Pleasant Hill BART transit village? If not, more reason to put a supermarket here.

Huston Meadows said...

Hi Dan,

I cannot understand how you think Lunardi's is overpriced compared to Whole Foods. TJs is less expensive than Lunardi's but has a very limited selection of produce, meat and fish. Lunardi's (an formerly Petrini's) is a good deal because of food quality. Note that we eat mostly fresh foods so that perspective may color my judgment.
Regardless who moves in, I will be happy to get rid of the Coop eyesore!

Anonymous said...

10:34 AM - Don't think you missed any except the really small home owned stores that preceded 7-11's. They were great as filled a real need when you just needed bread and milk. Dumor Dairy on Newell and Lupoi's (meat and fresh fish as well as vegatables)on Ygnacio come to mind. I think I also remember a shop on N. Main just near the Army/Navy store and of course there was the butcher shop in Broadway Plaza as well as Lawrence's Meats on N. Main.

All those stores served a much smaller population than we now have in Walnut Creek. All were successful and gave us a real choice as to where to shop for certain items.

Too bad we have such a monopoly now and also must drive much further just to get groceries.
Sure was a lot easier to shop for food in the "old days" of Walnut Creek.

Anonymous said...

There is a huge gap in grocery stores between downtown and the Bancroft Safeway. It's too bad that there's no store in the Ygnacio Plaza except Sport's Basement. I heard there's a grocery store going in the old Rite Aid but as of yet, there's nothing.

Anonymous said...

Target is expanding their grocery store to open mid July with fresh groceries. Also, a little trivia - before Lunardi's was Petrini's and before Petrini's was an old fashion Park n Shop, I think part of what later became upscale Andronico's. The little grocery store where the Army Navy Surplus store was, was the predecessor to Whole Foods. It was purchased by Whole Foods and moved when they acquired the McDonnell's Nursery site.

Anonymous said...

At Lunardi's you can get great deals and superb quality on fresh meats and produce. Everything else is somewhat pricey, but not as expensive as Whole Foods. A Lucky's where Co-Op was, would give us some much needed competition in the moderately priced supermarket range. Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Lunardi's all are great stores where I buy selected groceries. The Target expansion will be great, because I've seen quite a few items that are 40%+ less expensive than Safeway. Sodas are generally not put on sale as deep as they are at the majors.

Huston Meadows said...

12:47 mentioned the mom-and-pop markets that used to dot the land in the "good old days".

Larkey Market at Larkey and First Street (close to the Landsay Museum) is the one remaing example of these stores in Walnut Creek. They continue to make some of the highest-value for price lunch sandwiches to order. Neighbors bring their children there for treats and the store is a neighborhood gem.

Anonymous said...

Was the coop free nursery called "Kitty Corral"? Also, when referring to the small market on First Ave. at Larkey Lane, do you mean what my children always referred to as "Mr. Benny's"?

Anonymous said...

They should put in an Olive Garden!

ames said...

FYI
The name of the WC old grocery store on Main, was Good Nature Grocery. The best job ever!

Anonymous said...

#3 - that was kiddie corral - spent time there myself as I recall - my brother did and my neighbors did

don't remember our co-op number - but as I recall Co-op stood for cooperative...

my mother loved the place - it is a fond memory of my mother's interest in the world's advances

Anonymous said...

Live on Oak Rd. near Treat, would LOVE a grocery store (other than Safeway) within walking distance.

Anonymous said...

The City has wanted to push Measure A height limits downtown and may have wanted to use the Coop site to set a precedent but perhaps the grocery store option will not need a city-wide vote.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the 11:52 a.m. poster;
I live in Walnut Creek on Jones, with no car, and it's a giant hassle to not have a market within easy walking distance.

I order groceries online from Safeway for delivery every 3 wks, but I sure miss being in the city, where I had a good-quality mom&pop store on the next corner, and a block from that, a whole street (Clement Street) full of good produce stands, not to mention places you could buy quality bread and some decent fresh coffee. Even if I just had that, it'd be easier to have fresh, quality stuff on hand in between my big Safeway buys of things that keep well for a long time.

Once in a blue moon, I've walked from Jones to the Mideastern type grocery over by the strip mall on North Main, but the market is just so-so.

I hope that the region's developers are listening, and will put in a decent grocery at either that location and/or at the Pleasant Hill BART transit village. I think there's enough demand to support at least one more store in addition to the Safeways, Trader Joe's and other stores already in Walnut Creek and surrounding communities.

p.s. I just heard on KCBS this morning that Walmart wants to put in a superstore or super-grocery store type of entity in Antioch. There's some resistance to it, partly because Walmart apparently pays bottom dollar and could negatively impact workers' wages at other groceries.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear Target is expanding its fresh groceries section. That's better than nothing. Still not that convenient for those of us over near Oak, but better than nothing. Might be time for me to buy an electric motor scooter!

Anonymous said...

The name of the WC old grocery store on So. Main, was Good Nature Grocery which was a cooperative but not a "Co op" store.

Anonymous said...

The name of the bank inside CO-OP was "Twin Pines Bank" I believe.
The lunch counter had great food as I recall.
I still have some spice cans from my mother-in-law from co-op (I don't use them, just like to keep them).

Anonymous said...

I wish they'd open a Fresh & Easy grocery store here:

http://www.freshandeasy.com/locationSuggestions.aspx

With the number of high density apartments, condos and hotels nearby, it would be a perfect location for a grocery store specializing in "Grab-n'-go" prepared, fresh meals!!

Anonymous said...

what year was the coop building built?