I recently attended the meeting where Safeway presented their proposal of building a mega store as the anchor of the Town Center. The new store would have wide aisles and a pharmacy.
Hasn’t anyone been following the situation at Rancho del Mar in Aptos? Safeway recently purchased that center and now wants to build a super Safeway there, displacing 14 small local businesses that have been there for decades. Our city officials seem to favor a similar plan in SV because it will bring in sales tax, even though food and prescriptions are tax free, and because Safeway will pay to build the Town Center.
The cost to SV will be that Safeway will own the land and will have total control over what merchants will be allowed.
They repeatedly said there would be “no duplication" and the rent would be so high that only large or very high-line merchants could afford it. So if you ever wanted to see a Trader Joe’s, New Leaf, Staff of Life, local bakery, candy store, flower store or other small local business in our Town Center, it won't happen. Safeway has a long lease in Scotts Village, and it will also be their decision who fills their vacated space. The matter of excessive traffic and water use is a whole other issue.
When the Town Center was proposed years ago, we were told it would be similar to Santana Row, with lots of small interesting stores and restaurants, and it would be a place where people would gather. I realize the economy has greatly changed and many stores are just hanging on, but Santana Row’s shops and restaurants seem to be succeeding because they are unique. There is no giant Safeway as an anchor.
I see no balance or “sense of place” in this proposal, as Mayor Randy Johnson spoke of, and I hope there will be serious thought and discussion about this before it is allowed to proceed. We’ve talked about the Town Center for far too many years to just jump on a corporate proposal and end up with something totally different from what we envisioned. It’s better to wait until we can do it right.
Karen Diamond, Scotts Valley