Friday, December 14, 2007

Council Approves Center's Overhaul

Council Approves Center's Overhaul
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

A plan to overhaul a faltering shopping center in Vacaville met with City Council approval Tuesday night.

The council unanimously supported the renovation of Alamo Plaza, located at the intersection of Alamo Drive and Merchant Street. The plaza has seen better days, officials agreed, with the loss of major tenants contributing to its decline.

The center was built in the 1970s and features gross leasable space of more than 165,000 square feet. It currently does not have an anchor store, with Big Lots as its largest tenant, and has an overall vacancy rate of 50 percent.

Applicant F.H. One has proposed a complete makeover for the plaza, which includes sprucing up the facades of existing buildings and adding two new structures. One of the additions is a 24,000-square-foot office/retail building. The other is a 70-foot tall, centrally located tower.

The tower would include 400 square feet of retail space, and as project engineer Tom Phillippi explained, will "serve as a landmark, as a feature to draw attention to the center."

"We hope it can be tall enough to be seen from quite a ways away," Phillippi said.

Councilman Steve Wilkins praised the parking lot configuration and said "the project is appealing to me."

"This is an important step in revitalizing a center that has somewhat languished over the years," Wilkins added.
His fellow councilman, Curtis Hunt, said, "I like the project, I like the design of the project, I like the tower - I think it's unique." However, he tempered his praise with some concerns about traffic - particularly turns from a driveway onto Merchant Street.

Phillippi maintained that the driveway is safe, adding that a stop light "allows big gaps in traffic." The council decided that it will revisit the matter as the project progresses, but not with the idea that the driveway could be closed.

Mayor Len Augustine and Vice Mayor Chuck Dimmick stressed the importance of proper and permanent signage, as opposed to temporary, sandwich-board type of signs. Phillippi said signage plans are forthcoming.

The project will be completed in three phases, with phase one including some parking lot work and the tower feature. The remainder of the parking lot would be re-striped during phase two. Renovation of the existing buildings also would be completed during these phases.

Phase three would include construction of the two-story office/retail building.

Phillippi said working drawings for phase one are well under way and soon will be submitted to the city. He anticipates that construction work will begin in the spring.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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