At last Tuesday’s meeting, the council, acting as the successor agency to the Oakley Redevelopment Agency, approved resolutions to accept bids from Cross Development and Rogelstad-Thorpe, LLC. Cross Development, which has proposed to buy the Centromart building for $630,000, plans to build a Dollar General (DG) Market. Rogelstad-Thorpe, LLC, which proposed to purchase the strip mall to the rear of the plaza for $1.3 million, intends to relocate Oakley’s Ace Hardware and renovate the existing buildings and façade.
While the council unanimously supported Rogelstad-Thorpe, LLC’s proposal, Councilman Jim Frazier stood alone in opposing the DG Market. Frazier expressed concern that opening a renovated grocery store in the Centromart location could harm business at Lucky and Raley’s, which are located one mile and 1.6 miles away, respectively.
“This to me doesn’t fit with what I envisioned,” Frazier said. “I wanted to get away from this type of use. This is our main street. This is our focal point across from city hall, and I’m not looking for an in-and-out. I’m looking for duration. I want people to spend their time there to do walkable shopping. This troubles me because this is not what I envisioned right here for our downtown.”
Catalina Padilla, a member of the Contra Costa Labor Council, echoed Frazier’s concerns. She told the council she is worried what will become of the city’s two main grocery stores with the addition of a third market. If Lucky or Raley’s closes, the other stores in the shopping centers would likely struggle, she said. “I’d rather have one empty lot than a ghost town,” she told the council.
City Manager Bryan Montgomery said that since concern over Lucky or Raley’s closing is “overly dramatic,” city staff didn’t approach representatives from the other local groceries stories. Centromart has stood the test of Lucky and Raley’s when they first came to town. Cross Development plans to replace Centromart with DG Market, which is also a grocery store, so the use of the building will remain – but the branding will change.
DG Market is an extension of the Dollar General, which is one of the nation’s largest retail discount stores, which sells products from reputable companies such as Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, General Mills and Nabisco. What sets the DG Market apart from a standard dollar store is that the market will offer fresh produce, meats and dairy, an expanded dry goods selection plus discounted cleaning products, housewares and clothes. Montgomery and members of the council were quick to emphasize that despite the name, the DG Market is not a dollar store.
Cross Development, a Texas-based developer, plans to renovate the building and redesign the exterior to blend with the aesthetic tone set by Carpaccio’s. The city currently owns the Centromart building and leases it to the grocery store. The lease is up at the end of February of 2013; however, under the lease agreement, the city can give an 120-day notice for Centromart to cease operations and vacate the premises. While a timeline was not discussed at the meeting, representatives from Cross Development expressed an urgent need in its bid proposal to get the project moving once approval has been granted.
Despite Frazier’s concerns, the council voted 4-1 to accept the bid, agreeing that Cross Development’s proposal is an opportunity not to be missed. As Councilman Randy Pope said, the concern over DG Market’s impact on surrounding grocery stores is likely a red herring to stall development in order to see if other opportunities are available.
Since the Oakley Redevelopment Agency was dissolved at the beginning of the year as part of a statewide mandate, the City Council now acts as Redevelopment’s successor agency. Under the new arrangement, the council’s input will be received by the seven-member Redevelopment Oversight Board that now approves or denies bids. The board meets Tuesday, June 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Oakley City Council Chambers, 3231 Main St.