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Ex-DeLano's Space in Tam Junction Hits Two-Year Vacancy Mark

Agent for property owners says talks continue but nothing is imminent in finding a tenant for long-vacant building. Rumors abound that a mixed-use proposal is on the way.

Two years ago this week, Tam Valley residents lost their grocery store.

Despite a slew of efforts by the property owner and a number of residents to find a replacement, as well as a successful campaign to convince Orchard Supply Hardware to pull the plug on a deal to move in, the 23,267-square-foot space remains empty.

DeLano's IGA Market at 207 Flamingo Road in Tam Valley closed the week of Dec. 17, 2010, one of five DeLano's markets in Marin and San Francisco that shut down as part of a mass eviction of the struggling grocery chain.

Robert Knez, CEO of HL Commercial Real Estate in San Rafael and the agent for the building's owners, the Parrish Trust, noted that while the building has been vacant for two years, Kroger Co., which owns the Cala Foods/Bell Market chain, had subleased the Tam Valley space to DeLano Retail Partners. Its lease on the space did not run out until April 2012, so the Parrish Trust was getting revenue - approximately $46,300 per month based on the base rent the property owners are seeking - from the vacant building for 16 months after DeLano's closed.

"We've been talking to plenty of people since then but there's nothing to report at this time," he said.

As often happens during prolonged periods of silence, the rumor mill has been churning.

Tam Valley resident Mark Marinozzi, whose petition opposing the potential for "significant increases in high-density residential development" in Tam Valley has garnered nearly 500 signatures, gave voice to what many residents and local business owners have been saying for months.

"They may be just waiting to see if they can find a developer to build a mixed-use project there (at the former DeLano's space)," Marinozzi said. "But we need more jobs in the area more than we need more population. We can't handle more people in a place that dosn't even have a decent grocery store."

Knez declined to comment on any specific potential tenants or future developments at the space.

The Parrish Trust was awfully close to finding a new tenant in April when OSH inked a preliminary deal to move into the space in the heart of Tam Junction. But opposition to it mounted quickly, with Marinozzi creating a pair of online petitions against Orchard Supply’s move to the area, one invoking the community’s need for a grocery store in the 23,000-square-foot space at 209 Flamingo Road and the other urging one prospective grocery tenant to move into Tam Valley.

As the petitions gathered hundreds of signatures, Orchard Supply bailed on the deal, leaving some wondering if anything would've been better than nothing, particularly since a new type of business in the space would have triggered a public hearing process for a Use Permit and a Master Plan for the property, which extends from the market south to TJ’s Crossfit Gym. Some residents hoped such a process would incite a number of improvements to the vast, now-desolate property.

For Chris Nguyen, whose family has owned Shoreline Cleaners adjacent to the former DeLano's space for more than 20 years, having such a massive neighboring store sit empty for two years certainly hasn't made managing a tough economy any easier.

"It's been slow," Nguyen said. Last year was our lowest point in as long as I can remember. And I know our customers badly miss having somwething there, especially a grocery store."

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Rebecca Chapman December 20, 2012 at 06:50 PM
how 'bout whole foods #3 + a homeless shelter up above?
Geoff Flint December 20, 2012 at 10:04 PM
The space should be used as a kid's gym. There are tons of kids in the area and the space would be perfect for indoor recreation (basketball courts, jumpy houses, indoor soccer, etc.)!
Rico December 21, 2012 at 01:53 AM
If Tam Valley were down on the peninsula where the tech giants are thriving again now in this failing economy, then a mixed use development would make sense. Google would pay for the vehicular traffic impact of the added housing for their well paid employees to live near their place of work. Tam junction would have to be totally redisigned, California state route 1 would probably have to be elevated or rerouted away from Tam Junction. The existing route for Hwy 1 would serve the explosion of new local traffic created by the new highrise/high density apartment and condo complexes at the old Cala market site. And, there would be much more development in the area too. Hwy 1 would have to be rerouted, it would be similar to what they wanted to do back in the 1960s. The possibilities are endless, like condemn a route through birdland through eminant domain, and carve up the open space to reconnect at Erica Dr. Tam Valley would became a new age little incorporated city, managed by Google and Facebook. A new privatly operated company town. But alas, there are no tech giants to provide the jobs and funding for such a wild plan to be implemented in Tam Valley, so the best thing to do is condemn the old market (if no entity can afford to build anything else there), and demolish the building like they did to the Yates Chevron station. Lets wait 10 or 20 years and see if the economy ever recovers before trying to cram in more "housing units" and vehicle traffic into Tam Valley.
Bill McGee December 22, 2012 at 09:12 AM
A food market would be ideal and the community clearly wants one. Whether it will support one sufficiently is yet to be determined. The food retailers are savvy and they understand that risky businesss and what it takes to survive. The fact that a market has not be found does not bode well. I would hope a scaled down food market would make sense for a retailer to lease and make a run of it. The economy continues its steady uptick pace even with the threat of the fiscal cliff. In Real Estate there were 17 single family homes sold in Mill Valley in November with a Median sell price of 1.23 million. The condo/townhouse market is still slow (2 sold in November with Median price of $486,500). The rental market continues at gangbuster pace though throughout Marin.

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