Friday, December 03, 2010

Blog #66 - Good Earth Signs Lease to move to old Alberstson's site

Parts of the article below were excerpted from an article that appeared in Patch News as written by Kelly Dunleavy on November 30, 2010:

After many years of speculation and wishful thinking from Fairfax residents, the closed Albertson's at Fair-Anselm Plaza is finally getting a new tenant.

Good Earth announced on November 30, 2010, it is signing a long-term lease with LRG Capital to occupy the 23,000 square foot space that has stood empty since Albertson's shut a number of its Northern California stores in 2006.

"It's the perfect fit for that building," said Town Manager Michael Rock. "It'll be good for the town in the long run, good for Good Earth, and good for the community."

The natural food store, at its current location since 2000, has been looking to expand, even considering a move to the Home Depot/Yard Birds location in San Rafael or the Delano's Market at various points in the past few years. The possibility of expanding to two or three stores in Marin is also still on the table, said Good Earth partner Al Baylacq.

"We know there's a lot riding on this," said Baylacq, pointing out that it'll help enhance the business community, revamp the entrance to town, and provide more opportunities to residents. "It's a win-win-win-win."

The long-term lease and move to Fair-Anselm includes an expansive remodel, something Good Earth partners Mark Squire and Baylacq both say includes environmentally-friendly renovations to cut down on energy use and make the building more sustainable.

"Our products have always been the greenest so our building will naturally be the greenest as well," said Squire in a statement.

Renovations include large windows to capitalize on natural light, construction of a clerestory, a grey water system, permeable asphalt, and solar panels. Both the Good Earth partners and LRG Capital will work with design teams on the total overhaul of the building. Baylacq said they've been working on designs for the last four months, which have to be approved by the Town of Fairfax.

The renovations are expected to be complete and the new store opened in October 2011.

For a grocery store that started in a tiny space on Bolinas Avenue in 1969, the growing demand for natural and organic products has meant the need for a bigger location. The new site will also include an expanded prepared foods, deli, and bakery section – a favorite among many locals.

"The Good Earth lease is an important step to revitalizing the Fairfax property," said Geoffrey Koblick, one of the managers of the LRG Capital Real Estate Fund, in a prepared statement.

Though the revitalization of one of the town's biggest empty storefronts is a boon for Fairfax, Good Earth still must go through the permitting process, needing to address traffic flow and submit to an environmental review. The parking lot is heavily used on weekends by cyclists who park and meet for rides in the hills above Fairfax or into West Marin. Those spaces will likely no longer to available with the lot in use by Fair-Anselm and Good Earth customers, an issue that will be addressed over the next year.

Hopefully, said Rock, those are the same people that enjoy shopping at Good Earth and will stick around town.

"I don't think a deal like this comes around very often in a small town," said Baylacq.

And though the move fills one empty storefront, it does leave another in its wake for residents to begin a new wishing game: what will go in the current Good Earth space on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard?

Baylacq said there are currently negotiations between the town and Chase Bank for the bank to move into the parking lot property. The Good Earth building, though, will remain under Squire's ownership and be leased out — with the possibility that Good Earth may move its lunch program's kitchen from Novato to the back of the building.