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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