Friday, March 17, 2006

Nugget Officially Coming to Northgate

Nugget Officially Coming to Northgate
By DAN JUDGE, Times-Herald staff writer

The developer responsible for much of the new growth in Vallejo's Northgate area held a dinner party for 300 Thursday night to celebrate several new additions, including the confirmation that high-end grocer Nugget Markets will be coming to town.

City officials and Vallejo residents braved the rains and streamed into a large tent to enjoy a free dinner while developer Gary Mandarich of Mandarich Developments discussed some of the projects coming to the area. The list included a college campus, retail plaza, auto dealerships and luxury condominiums geared toward seniors.

Most surprising for many was the appearance of Nugget representatives confirming that plans to build a 52,500-square-foot store were back on.

The project stalled when retail giant Wal-Mart announced it wanted to build one of its supercenters - which include grocery stores - in Vallejo. The store would be less than four miles from a supercenter already under construction in American Canyon.

Nugget threatened to cancel its plans if Wal-Mart moved forward. Last year, however, the City Council approved an ordinance that would trigger more rigorous reviews and environmental impact reports for any larger retailer exceeding 75,000 square feet.

"The recent ordinance enacted by the city satisfied our concerns," Nugget's real estate director Mark Engstrom said Thursday.

He said Nugget has submitted it building permit to the city.

"We hope to be under construction by late summer for a spring '07 opening," Engstrom said.

The Nugget Market would be part of a 98,000-square-foot neighborhood shopping center at the corner of North Ascot Parkway and Turner Parkway.

Vallejo spokesman Mark Mazzaferro said he was not aware of the Nugget permit but said city officials would be pleased if the project moved forward.

"Nugget has always been part of the plan up there," he said.

A new Wells Fargo Bank would be located in the shopping center, Mandarich said, while letters of interest had been received from about 20 other companies including restaurants and other businesses.

He said a retail and office complex would also be built at the southwest corner of Admiral Callaghan Lane and Columbus Parkway.

Solano Community College will build a 40,000-square-foot facility at the southwest corner of Columbus Parkway and St. John Mine's Road.

The school's Vice President John Hendrickson noted that it marked a return of sorts for the school because Vallejo Junior College, the precursor to Solano Community College, was originally located in Vallejo when it opened in 1945.

"This is where we began as part of the unified school district," he said.

The new campus will include a computer laboratory, bookstore distribution space, youth theater rehearsal space and art exhibit areas.

Hendrickson said construction bids were recently opened and work is expected to start on the new campus within a few months. Classes could be offered by fall of 2007, he said.

Ken Ross of Team Chevrolet said the first of the new auto dealerships in the area is expected to open April 15 with a Ford, Hyundai-Mazda and Buick dealerships to follow.

Mandarich closed the night out with the presentation of Belvedere, a planned "active adult community" of 336 luxury condominiums and a clubhouse on North Ascot Parkway across from Hyde Park.

He said the facility's design had been largely inspired by Belvedere Palace in Vienna.

Mandarich said the facility would address the needs of an under-represented market in Vallejo, those over age 55.

"People are living longer and those who are baby boomers truly want to stay in the community they grew up in," he said.

The Belvedere project is in the approval process and the first hearing before the city will be held on April 3, he said.

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