Monday, January 07, 2008

Nut Tree Developer Wants More Than Stores

Nut Tree Developer Wants More Than Stores
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 05, 2008 13:16

VACAVILLE - Nut Tree's developer is asking for more leeway in what businesses it can bring into the still-growing retail center in northeastern Vacaville.

Vacaville's economic development officials want to move carefully because they want the Nut Tree to be considered the city's premier regional shopping center and a strong generator of sales tax dollars.

Some of the expanded uses being examined are allowing in banks, health and beauty services, children's learning centers, adult educational facilities, optometry services and medical offices.

Members of the Vacaville City Council will be asked Tuesday for their opinions on what other uses they would like to see fill vacant spaces at the Nut Tree.

On the plus side, such additional uses would fill space and create customers for the retail stores and eateries already open for business.

But hours-long occupation of parking spaces by adult education students and customers of beauty shops, for example, could put a crimp in parking availability in some parts of the Nut Tree.

City officials are also concerned these uses would not 'promote the vision of the Nut Tree,' according to a report to the council from Assistant City Manager Laura Kuhn.

When the city and Nut Tree's developer, San Francisco-based Snell and Company, first made the deal to redevelop the Nut Tree, the city wanted to see a profitable regional retail area and hotel/conference center.

Since then, developer Roger Snell has brought to the Nut Tree such businesses as Borders, Best Buy, Fenton's Creamery, Beverages & More and Old Navy.

Earlier this year, Snell backed off from plans to build a hotel and conference center, saying that the project simply did not pencil out, given market conditions at the time.

A hotel and conference center is still a major goal for Vacaville leaders, and city officials are presently in talks with another potential hotel developer, according to Kuhn.

Although the Nut Tree has attracted activity on weekends, it has been quieter than expected on weekdays, causing some of the smaller stores to struggle, Kuhn said.

'We want to create more activity during the weekdays,' Kuhn said.

The Vacaville City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Vacaville City Council chamber at 650 Merchant St.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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