Candidate Forum
Question 1: The former Ralphs/Albertson's supermarket site at the Davis Manor Shopping Center is proving difficult to fill with a new tenant. Having this building empty increases the threat to the other stores in the center. What would you do as a city council member to help revitalize or change this shopping center?

Charlesworth / Forbes / Saylor  / Greenwald

JJ Charlesworth:
I brought this up during my 2002 campaign, and I remember there was a lot of interest in. However, since the election of Ruth and Ted, nothing seems to have been done about it. I believe that the best way to revitalize the center is to build it up. Allow permits to build the site into a market with residents living above it. The large parking lot goes mostly unused, even during the days when it was opened. A large investment would be needed by businesses, of course, but Davis at one time was into alternative types of living spaces (ie Village Homes). Maybe 30 or 40 apartment units could help revitalize this center into a modern shopping center/residential area.

Stan Forbes:
When I was previously on the city council, I was the only council member who participated hands on in brainstorming what could be done to revitalize the center meeting regularly with city planners and neighborhood leaders such as jessica maria ross and Fred Buderi. I would resume that leadership role. Clearly revitalizing the site is a challenge. I am aware of the efforts of at least the past two years to attract a tenant. I believe it will take city money to make a project successful. While there has been discussion about having Davis Manor put into the redevelopment agency, that is difficult, time consuming, and puts Davis Manor in the position of having to compete with those areas already in the Agency for funds. An approach I would take is one that could be done without changing the redevelopment agency and one that could be done today.

The redevelopment agency is required to spend twenty percent of its revenue on affordable housing. But that housing can be anywhere in the city. It does not have to be spent inside the boundaries of the Redevelopment Agency. I would promote a mixed use project with some retail and some affordable housing and use the city's redevelopment housing money to facilitate the mixed use project. This would probably require removal of the old grocery site which I believe could open up more area at the site for a more significant project. I believe this investment would enable a new project to be developed with a minimum of delay.

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Don Saylor:
The Davis Manor Shopping Center is a key asset to the neighborhood and should be made a vital part of the city's economic development plans.

We can all come up with a long list of possibilities for the use of this space. Ideas that have been discussed include grocery stores, live/work uses and residential redevelopment of the site. In addition to the buildings on this location there is a significant amount of outdoor areas. Some concepts that appeal to me are a bazaar type market place with some specialty grocery items, indoor/outdoor restaurants, and neighborhood activity centers featuring such activities as a day care center, farmers' market, and outdoor patios.

But none of these ideas really matter if we can't work to make actual progress. The key will be cooperation with the owners - we are now at crossroads with expiration of the option of the former broker in December. We need to be realistic about the feasibility of various uses and work with potential investors to highlight the unique setting of this space.

We should pursue two tracks at this point:
  • Concerted pressure from the council and community to be brought that this inaction is not acceptable - meetings and media. We cannot accept ongoing blight causing vacancies.
  • Move toward inclusion in redevelopment area for authority to pursue imminent domain if needed
This must be a high priority for the city--this vacancy is a shame. Four years from now, at the end of four years on the Council, I intend to have accomplished more than a paint job.

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Sue Greenwald:
We know by now that there are no easy solutions to this problem. One thing I have found is that there is a diversity of opinion in the neighborhood as to what would constitute an acceptable solution. I would be interested in serving on a subcommittee with Ted Puntillo to try find a solution.

First, I would like to verify Paul Petrovich’s understanding that Ralph’s has a right to get out of the lease on Dec. 31, 2005. If this in case is true, one could assume that Ralph’s would exercise that right if the building is vacant. If a landlord is receiving rent on a vacant building, they have little incentive to make changes.

I would like to sit down with the neighborhood, and some bankers, developers and the economic development commission to brainstorm possible courses of action.

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