Jul 30, 2014
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Village Marketplace Clouds Downtown San Leandro

Demise of Fresh & Easy in the United States robbed the development of its anchor tenant. Now what?

Village Marketplace Clouds Downtown San Leandro

 

Questions outnumber answers as city and business leaders wonder what will happen to the Village Marketplace project now that Fresh & Easy has announced that it will not occupy the San Leandro location.

Developer David Irmer, who is in the process of buying the property from the city for $2.25 million, confirmed earlier this month that the British-owned chain had pulled out of its committment, denying the project its largest tenant and throwing the development into jeopardy.

This week San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy said the sale is still in escrow and not yet completed. A replacement tenant must be found for the project to secure the funding that is a prerequisite to completing the sale.

In an earlier story Patch reported that city officials must approve tenants of more than 10,000 square feet -- the newly vacated space is about 14,000 square feet.

"We would love to have a grocer come in," San Leandro business development manager Cynthia Battenberg recently told the Contra Costa Times. "But we are in the process of evaluating the options and seeing who is out there."

The downtown San Leandro location was the site of the first Lucky store in 1947. It later became an Albertson's and was closed in 2005.

Ever since the property has been a locus of lawsuits and controversy.

The city opposed Grocery Outlet's bid to acquire the property, got involved in a lawsuit over that and eventually purchased the site for $6.175 million, a cost that included demolition of the old building.

Officials had hoped that Irmer, who built the successful Creekside Plaza catty-corner to the San Leandro BART Station, would revive this property -- and make up for the city's losses by catalyzing the downtown.

Now this problem project lurches uncertainly into the New Year, extending the uncertainty over the city's downtown.

What would you like to see instead of Fresh & Easy? What do you think should happen? Would you favor canceling the project, if possible, and starting again? On what?

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Although city leaders are committed to working with Irmer to find a replacement tenant and push the project forward, since the deal is not final officials have some say 

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