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Orchard Supply Hardware Pulls Plug on Tam Valley Site

California home and garden center reverses course and won’t open a store at the long-vacant site formerly occupied by DeLano’s IGA Market after an outcry from local residents and businesses.

Faced with opposition campaigns from and , Orchard Supply Hardware has decided not to open a store in the  space.

Rick Saunders, Orchard Supply’s director of marketing, confirmed the decision Thursday but declined to elaborate on the specific reasons for the reversal. Orchard earlier this month with Robert Knez, CEO of HL Commercial Real Estate in San Rafael and the agent for the building's owners, the Parrish Trust. Knez could not be reached for comment.

After the agreement was announced, Tam Valley resident Mark Marinozzi created 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. The petitions have garnered nearly 400 signatures.

Saunders said the outcry wasn’t the primary driver in Orchard Supply’s decision to pull the plug on the Tam Valley deal.

"We believe it was a relatively small number of people who reacted and that wouldn't preclude us from going forward,” he said. “Then again, part of being Orchard Supply is that our customers love us, and we like that. Right now we're growing and actively looking at lots of desirable locations throughout California."

Orchard Supply has a store in San Rafael and 88 throughout California.

Reaction to the news was mixed, with Zviki Govrin, general manager of nearby saying he was relieved to avoid competition from a company of Orchard Supply’s size. Goodman officials had that had garnered 350 signatures, according to spokesman Harold Abend.

“I’m happy they backed off,” Govrin said. “The community needs something different over there and we all know that. We were ready to fight but I’m happy to put the energy elsewhere.”

Govrin had argued that there wasn’t enough home and garden business for Orchard Supply, Goodman and the garden centers in town like , and the .

“I didn’t think there was enough business for both of us,” Govrin said. “We would both have suffered until somebody died and I didn’t want to be the one who died."

Curry Ecklehoff, a 53-year local resident and the chair of the Tam Valley Improvement Club, wasn’t as pleased.

“I was afraid of that,” she said. “I’m discouraged. I wasn’t an advocate for anything going there but something would be better than nothing.”

Eckelhoff emphasized that the change of use from a grocery store to a hardware store 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.

“They would have made roadways and out in trees and landscaping – that whole area would’ve been beautiful instead of what it is now,” she said. “It would have enhanced the other businesses around there. The whole area would’ve been nice. So we missed an opportunity.”

Saunders said Orchard Supply would have been a boon for the local community. He cited the company’s new store in Fresno, which created 75 new jobs in that area, as well as the company’s dedication to great customer service.

Marinozzi said he hopes the community can turn the Orchard Supply dustup into a concerted collaborative effort to fill the former DeLano’s space.

“I hope that the petitions and all of the attention that’s been put on this space raises awareness in the community that we really have to work together to come with a solution that’s best for everybody – the community, the Parrish Trust and local businesses,” Marinozzi said.

Orchard Supply, based in San Jose, Calif., was founded in 1931 as a cooperative among 30 orchard owners for farming supplies. It was bought by Sears in 1996 and spun out of Sears Holdings earlier this year. The company went public on the Nasdaq exchange in January and is in growth mode this year, according to a spokesperson.

Concerned Citizen of Tam Valley April 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
The land is so undervalued because it is underutilized, blighted, dangerous and without design or direction. The Parrish Trust and all the owners of the shopping center need to be in tune with the community. I bet there are plenty of people in Tam Valley who would volunteer to make the area the best it could be to attract a tenant for that huge space. Proof Lab and Grow have done a great job on the Marsh side. Would the owners allow that? No requirement for a master plan means we'll never have a conversation with the owners. With no grocery interested in that huge space I fear the worst. I do hope for the best though and I also like the idea of the small shops with one anchor tenant and some loft apartments if there will never be a large grocery, which seems to be the case.
Scott Stender April 20, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I agree with this completely. The failure of Delano's was because it was never a well-run store and was as expensive as Whole Foods or more for some things. Only good deal there was meat. Trader Joe's would be the perfect fit in that space and we all need to let TJ's know that. Yes, they would need to divide the space so TJ's would be interested, and there are plenty of other business which would do well with a TJ's in that space. So let's welcome them! Cafe/Coffee Bar/Farmer's Market/ Post Office/etc.
Rico April 21, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Loft apartments ? How about another luxury condo project like the Tamalpais Commons in Mill Valley ? It is just about as noisy for the tenants, and the soft sound of highway 1 and the Sunday motorcycle gang starting at 6:00am probably wouldn't bother most of the new imported residents. Oh but wait, like the Tamalpais communes the developer could never possibly sell the luxury condos, so they will do an about face and apartmentize the condos, until the economy recovers. For $4000 per month one could rent a luxury shared thin wall unit with a sweeping view of the state highway 1. And add a Burger King down below, for fragrance.
C Elkin April 21, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I agree! Everyone agrees. If the space is too large the realator can create two spaces. What business wouldn't want to be next to Trader Joes? Enough talk about building apartments.
MV Resident June 15, 2012 at 08:16 PM
What a shame. Orchard Supply Hardware would have been a great tenant here and a great fit for the community.

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