What Would Fit Well at the Square's Grocery Vacancy?

DeLano's Market, anchor store at The Square shopping center, closed in 2009. Who would be a good tenant here?

Maybe Novato Patch readers can help our local commercial real estate folks figure out how to fill some of our empty storefronts. Might as well give it a try, right?

Each week, we will feature a vacant store, abandoned building or undeveloped lot and ask readers: "What do you wish were here?"

The idea was inspired by Candy Chang from New Orleans, who in 2010 created "I wish this was ..." stickers and placed thousands around the city for residents to fill in the blanks. Stickers can be bought online here

The former DeLano's Market spot has been empty for about three years and rumors have died down about how might move in. What do you think would really enhance this location on the western end of Novato?

If you're interested, call Horizon Properties at 707-789-9132.

Gil April 23, 2012 at 12:24 AM
A farmer's market would be a winner because it could pull people from all over the area which is what that location needs on an anchor to survive. I'd love to see a bowling alley as some have suggested but they are rapidly going out of business these days and I doubt you could get a bank loan for one. However, as many people have suggested the owner obviously is letting it run down to pave the way for being able to unload the acreage unencumbered by tenants and leases. I'd love to be proven wrong. We need a pharmacy on this end of Novato and the Thai restaurant there is excellent, but it is clear the property is being cleared for redevelopment.
gary April 23, 2012 at 03:57 AM
We live near the Square Shopping Center. Although we try to shop at all local grocery stores (Luckys, Harvest, Paradise Foods etc.), we do often go to San Rafael specifically to shop at United Market. We really like the prices and that they are locally owned. We would strongly recommend a United Market for the Square. Or a Farmers Market type store selling local goods. But my real question is why isn't the City working with Novato inventory of empty business locations and shopping centers to stimulate new businesses there instead of building new buildings. This would be more environmentally friendly and green, and bring in more sales tax which the City says it desperately needs.
Tina McMillan April 23, 2012 at 06:47 AM
Gary The city will give lots of reasons for the struggle to fill vacant properties. For their own contribution they chose to build brand new class A offices in Old Town when they could have purchased an existing building for a fraction of the cost and used the $17 million to offset our ongoing deficit. How they choose to allocate their resources doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Certainly some of that money would have covered the salary of a community development director since losing the RDA but now it will all go into a single building, with limited parking and no real fiscal gain. The money they save on the lease was chump change compared to the $40 million the RDA will spend to repay the bonds floated to build the city offices. The city still has an ongoing structural deficit that ranges between $4.5 and $6 million depending on what you read. Measure F funds help in the short run but will not fix the problem. The council had a chance to add a linkage fee to new developments when Hannah Ranch went in and they voted it down. San Rafael and Petaluma both have linkage fees. It just seems like our council can't seem to find a way to build business or bring in revenue that we badly need.
Jane S April 24, 2012 at 04:27 AM
These are some good ideas. There is a place in Costa Mesa in southern California called Growers Direct and that is what I imagine could be great in the space. It is a direct, farmer to customer, store that sells fresh produce. TJ's does not have the best produce and Whole Foods is pricey so it could be a niche. The location is not the problem; it is the appearance of the center. No one wants to shop at an outdated run down place filled with empty stores. I agree 100% that the city needs to put more pressure on the owner.
Dianne Landeros April 25, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Fresh & Easy grocery store
S. P. April 25, 2012 at 02:50 AM
either a hardware store or an independent bookstore.....
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 04:33 AM
That was on my hitlist, Roger!
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 04:35 AM
One thing I can assure everybody is that it will never be an independent bookstore. Dare I say that no new independent bookstores will open in Novato ever again. It's 2012 and too many people read books on their electronic devices. Ask any bookstore owner and they'll tell you that people mingle in their stores for hours an then walk out without buying anything. It's just too tough to make a profit.
JC April 28, 2012 at 04:03 AM
I would like a Molly Stones.
NB May 01, 2012 at 07:25 PM
yes!! i have been saying this for years!!!!! although i would also accept the earlier idea of a roller rink :) if not something fun/recreational, then definitely a grocery store... it's such a pain to run to the store for an item or two from this side of town!
Kevin May 01, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Arghhhggggg, I'm Jim Grimes, cranky do nothing nobody! it'll never work...bad attitude man...arghhhhhh!!!
NB May 02, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I'm beginning to think Jim Grimes is actually the evil owner!! What other motive is there to have such an extreme take on this situation??
NB May 02, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Best comment yet!!
Nanette Brichetto May 15, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I believe Novato already has too many grocery stores and that's why the previous markets failed. The only thing I can think of is a coop type of store with farmer's market booths, a coffee and maybe a smoothie and ice cream vendor, maybe a few unique grocery items like the Asian Market idea, and possibly some small vendor booths rentable for anything from arts and crafts to antiques. A sign with changeable slots and/or a website that's updated weekly to feature what's currently going on and what's coming next week. Also, a comfy seating area with tables and some green plants. I don't know if this is feasible, but it might be possible to rent booths to caterer's, or specialty chef's for a place to showcase their foods to the public (cheese makers, sushi masters, et al). It might be a way for mail order foodies to showcase their goods and add clients to their mailing/web list.
New Novato resident May 27, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I second the TJ Maxx idea!
Edwin Drake June 22, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Indoor Shooting Range.
Christine June 22, 2012 at 01:51 AM
A Michaels or a Ben Franklin
Baxter June 22, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Edwin - That is too funny! But, what a great way to vent everyone's frustrations!!!
Bob Ratto June 22, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Edwin Welcome back!...indeed!...as long as it is done in a "Sustainable" fashion, powered by "clean" energy, shooting only "green" bullets, and firing at organic targets. Perhaps the targets could be coupled with an organic tortilla making factory, using gluten free flour for the targets...
Mark Burnham June 22, 2012 at 04:59 PM
i'm pretty sure edwin is serious. either way its better than an empty 10,000 sf space. that landlord is a complete joker.
Bob Ratto June 22, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Mark I think the landlord is playing this out really well...if his goal is to get it redeveloped. He goes "hat in hand, so to speak"..."look, I have been losing money on this site for years, my vacancies continue to escalate, the City needs to let me rezone this so I can help "beautify/revitalize/(your buzzword here)" the area. He could of course, spend a few bucks now on it, lower rents while a remodel goes on, etc...the fact he is choosing not to, makes his ultimate goal pretty transparent, but he is the one holding the cards. Agree?
Nanci Boyd June 25, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I think that you should put in a community pool/rec center like they have in Marinwood and Lucas Valley. Great pools - great rec centers.
Nanci Boyd June 25, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Now that's a great idea!
Trish Boorstein June 25, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Good idea Nanci! With the park nextdoor and maybe a snackbar/cafe on the premises, this would satisfy a North Novato pool need since San Marin doesn't have one and the property across the street from them where Morning Star is won't probably be developed anytime soon(this was a proposed site for a pool). Developing the site is probably still prohibitive due to gas station nextdoor with old leaky underground tanks.
Mark Burnham June 25, 2012 at 05:13 PM
to bob.. maybe.. i guess.. but my guess is "no" this is not a master plan by this landlord to redevelop it. this landlord has let this place sit in disrepair for years. when the economy tanked in 2007 this sub par strip mall (with only a few solid tenants) went down quickly. the anchor grocery store was no match for safeway and others and after they left others quickly followed. considering this landlords penchant for allowing low life criminals to gather for years at the north west end of the parking lot (right across from tags deli) it seems he wasn't too concerned about any liability he would incur should some serious crime be committed there. not every landlord has the foresight you allude to. this guy is most likely absentee and owns other properties in various states of disrepair. i bet his house looks like oakland mayor quan's too!
Tina McMillan June 25, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Like so many others I find it unfathomable why the landlord would let this property sink into disrepair. The taxes alone make it a significant investment. It is all ready zoned for mixed use. I keep thinking that we will see a change once the lease ends for CVS. It didn't use to be an eyesore. When Roger Wilco was the grocery chain it was a wonderful place to shop and the nearby restaurants were good places to eat. It seems unfair to the remaining shop owners that so little is done to keep up the area and to make it more inviting. San Marin Plaza ( http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/13766335/101-199-San-Marin-Drive-Novato-CA/) is constantly releasing space as it opens up. The center is vibrant and enhances the surrounding neighborhood. We need the owner of the Square to care enough to do the same. Take a look at the Retail West development going in at 7370 Redwood Blvd http://www.loopnet.com/Attachments/1/D/2/1D2BAE00-2252-48BF-89B5-98098C407303.pdf
Shirley Nye August 29, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I have silently wished that United Market would move here. As a privately owned store (like Roger Wilco was) I think it would fit the area perfectly. I watch their ads and the prices are moderate and they support locally sourced food items. Private owners seem more community minded too. Shirley N.
Nanci Boyd August 29, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I think that we do need a bigger Rec Center in Novato and that location would be perfect. We could have a place with in door soccer, baseball, basketball, a place for hosting meetings and parties and if it works a swimming pool. People could rent out some of the area for events, camps could be held there, study clubs etc. People could also join the club and pay a fee for the pool use and club room use etc. AND it would be open to the public for another fee to use it on an as need basis.
Donna germano December 11, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Get rid of the parent owner! But how is the question . Pride does not exist nor community interest. Just greed. I hear they don't live in the area. All the ideas for a vital center are great:ateen center,co-op,specialty foods shops, and definately a place for staples like milk,eggs and such so that those of us liviing at this end of town don't have to run all over the place And might there be a place for a home furniture shop in this town? Gog help us if we were ever to get a book store or something like it! food shops,
pure living February 26, 2013 at 05:48 PM
The entire Novato Square Shopping Center is decrepit and hideous. It needs to be torn down and rebuilt - I'd like to see the shopping center look like the new one over at Hamilton.


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