A natural food grocery store along the lines of Whole Foods will become the new fixture in a neighborhood that for decades had to look at a crumbling old building that had become one of Walnut Creek's most notorious eyesores.
The City Council on Tuesday gave unanimous approval to a developer's plan to raze the former co-op grocery store near the intersection of Geary Road and Treat Boulevard and replace it with a retail center.
The anchor store in the 34,939-square-foot center will be Sprouts Farmers Market. A Henry's store originally was set to go into the 2.76-acre site but Mark Hall of Hall Equities Group, owners of the site, said Arizona-based Sprouts and Southern California-based Henry's recently merged. It's not yet known which two retail shops will go into the other buildings on the site.
Sprouts grocery stores are described as being similar to Whole Foods with their emphasis on farm fresh produce purchased from local growers when possible, according to the blog, Natural Specialty Foods Memo. "Sprouts also offers a large selection of vitamins and supplements, all natural meats, fresh seafood, bins full of bulk foods, an extensive selection of natural, organic and specialty grocery items, imported cheeses, deli meats, prepared foods and more," according to the blog.
Hall said that a grocery store is badly needed in the area and would serve residents living six blocks away in the new Pleasant Hill BART Transit Village.
"This is a great piece of real estate and the community in north Walnut Creek is really underserved," said Hall, who grew up in the area and can remember going to the co-op as a child.
The company is very excited to spearhead the effort to clean up the co-op eyesore, "which is a true blight to the immediate neighborhood and north Walnut Creek generally," Hall said previously.
The co-op closed in the 1970s, and has been vacant ever since. Councilman Gary Skrel said Tuesday it was about time to get the property developed. "All I have to say is hoorah and yay!"
The council had to agree to a general plan amendment to change the land-use designation for Sprouts. The site has been designated for "mixed-use residential." Development of the site was long complicated by height restrictions imposed by Measure A. Under Measure A, a new structure there can only be 20 feet high, a restriction that city staff said would have limited its potential as a site for a housing complex.