Developer to seek city OK of smaller Whole Foods

first_imgProject consultant Michael Hastings said the developer spent three weeks with city planners after the rejection to look for alternative sites, but did not find one that suited the Austin, Texas-based organic grocer. Rather than abandon the project, the firm is making one more push for a store at Alameda and Main Street, he said Friday. “You want to be able to satisfy the public and bring them the services that they’ve requested, even if you have to keep fighting and keep fighting to come up with a plan that works,” said Hastings, who is also a former city councilman. But project opponents have cried foul, believing the council already decided the issue. “We feel betrayed,” said Roman Gora, a Rancho resident and Whole Foods opposition leader who believes the grocer would bring excess traffic and other problems to a neighborhood where homes come with backyard stables. “We followed due process; we followed the rules. The decision was 3-2,” he said. “The discussion about a smaller store is not an issue here. It’s about `Let’s confirm the verbiage,’ not about considering a 40,000-square-foot store.” Davies originally planned a 60,000-square-foot store with two levels of subterranean parking on the 76,000-square-foot site now occupied by an office building. The city’s Planning Board rejected the project, saying it would be incompatible with the neighborhood. While appealing the decision before the City Council, the developer heeded concerns from Councilman David Golonski and opponents about the store’s size, and reduced it to 52,340 square feet. Davies had said the market can’t be any smaller, but Golonski, who suggested paring the building down to 40,000 square feet, held firm and eventually voted against the project. Gora said the last-minute change was disingenuous. “If that was the case, he should’ve said yes at that point,” he said. “It’s just not fair to the public.” Hastings disagreed. “They should be pleased that they have won another victory to bring us back at 40,000 square feet,” he said. “We’re working off their perceptions of fear, and hopefully this will take them out of that mode.” But Gora insisted that even the smaller market doesn’t address concerns about traffic congestion and safety for area residents and equestrians. “Even if you have a smaller store, you’re still going to have another traffic nightmare,” he said. [email protected] (818) 546-3304160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BURBANK – Despite rejections from City Hall, a proposal to build a Whole Foods Market in the Rancho equestrian district refuses to go away. In what may be a last-ditch effort to convince a City Council majority to get behind the project at 901 W. Alameda Ave., developer Tom Davies is pitching a 40,000-square-foot store – about two-thirds the size of the original plan. Though the council on Feb. 20 shot down the controversial project in a 3-2 vote, the refusal won’t be final until the panel formalizes the decision in a resolution, an act scheduled Tuesday. It’ll be up to the council members whether they want to reconsider, though it’s rare for a developer to appeal a project at this late stage, city planner Greg Herrmann said. last_img
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