Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Vacaville City Council acts to attract Asian Market

Shopping center gets boost by city council

By Jennifer Gentile/ /Staff Writer

Article Launched: 07/25/2007 01:35:13 AM PDT

The Vacaville City Council acted Tuesday night to help an Asian Market come to town and stimulate a beleaguered shopping center.

The ruling was prompted by a situation at the Peabody Center on Peabody Road, which, according to city staff, has been faltering for two decades.

The problem the center has faced, staff explained, is not unique in the city and stems from the loss of its grocery store.

The center once housed Lucky's market, and later Chandler's Furniture. Grocery stores attract a steady stream of shoppers who patronize other businesses as well, according to staff, and the entire center suffers when that operation leaves.

A specialty Asian grocery store has leased the building in the Peabody Center, but in doing so received an unpleasant surprise. Owners were under the impression that because the site was originally a grocery store, moving in would not trigger new development impact fees.

In fact, the ownership was put on the hook for an unexpected $76,277 expense, which is the difference in development impact fees for a grocery versus a retail use. According to a staff report, the fee credits for the original grocery store were lost when Chander's Furniture replaced it.

"Financially, it was a big shock," said proprietor Ann Lewald, who operates a similar operation in Pleasant Hill called County Square Market. "It was an additional almost $80,000 we had not anticipated."

The council accepted staff's solution - an ordinance allowing the transfer of impact fee credits.

City rules have limited the use of these credits to the downtown commercial district, but under the ordinance, the city manager has the authority to transfer them to other areas.

With the credits transferred, the business stands to pay $33,000 less in fees, Economic Development Manager Mike Palombo has said.

In spite of the decline that has occurred at the center, Lewald said, "I think the location is great."

"I know the center right now is a little depressed," she said, "but we can update it and bring new life to it."

The council seemed equally enthusiastic about the idea, including Vice Mayor Chuck Dimmick who said, "I think it's a great move"

Councilman Steve Wilkins said, "Not only is it a good idea to introduce an Asian food market to our community, but it's also an important way to revitalize a shopping center that has seen better days."

Lewald said she hopes to open her market by Thanksgiving of this year.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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