APTOS — Safeway has begun a new round of communication with members of the local community ahead of their proposed store expansion and renovation of the Rancho del Mar Shopping Center at the corner Soquel and State Park drives in Aptos.
Deborah Karbo, vice president of development at Safeway’s real estate development subsidiary, Property Development Centers (PDC), is leading the discussions.
Land use consultants Hamilton Swift, which had been hired by Safeway to manage the community outreach and planning process for the Rancho del Mar project, will no longer act as intermediaries between Safeway and the public, according to Karbo.
“We want to know what people are really thinking,” she said. “And we felt that people really wanted to speak to Safeway directly.”
Karbo, who will oversee the planning, construction and leasing process of the proposed development, explained that there had been a delay in communicating with the public since Safeway/PDC filed a pre-application with the county in May and “people want to know what is going on.”
Karbo shared that Safeway/PDC will be making the rounds, meeting with neighborhood and community action groups in Aptos to address any concerns and show a revised plan for the shopping center.
Safeway's revised plan includes a new enlarged outdoor public plaza and deck along Soquel Drive. The landscaped plaza and deck includes tables and chairs for outdoor gathering.
Reducing the footprint of the proposed Safeway store from 60,000 to 55,000 square feet allows for a new public plaza and deck, according to information supplied by Safeway/PDC. The existing Safeway is 34,800 square feet with no adjacent public areas.
A change to smaller store sizes in the revised plan will make it possible for more small businesses to be in the center, according to Safeway/PDC.
The largest retail store has been reduced from the initially proposed 28,743 square feet to a revised plan for 11,500 square feet. The smallest retail space would be 558 square feet.
The total amount of retail space has been increased from the existing 90,186 square feet to 97,754 square feet in the revised plan.
Currently, the largest store in Rancho Del Mar, other than Safeway, is the Rite-Aid at 14,400 square feet. Ace Hardware and Aptos Shoes are both about 11,000 square feet.
Karbo said Safeway is talking individually with each of the Rancho del Mar tenants.
“We want our tenants to be vital and stable up to and through the renovation. We are encouraging them to remain in the center while we are working on the plan. They will continue to pay their current rent plus their portion of a recent increase in property taxes,” she said.
Ace Hardware and Aptos Shoes have already negotiated leases in the renovated center. Comerica, Rite Aid and the Sheriff’s office will continue under their existing leases. Eric’s Deli has a lease extension and has expressed interest in the new center. Aptos Cinema recently renewed their lease for two more years.
“We strongly believe in keeping the local flavor of the center and are working hard to find ways to support local businesses,” Karbo said.
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