This summer's rumors have come true as Walmart's construction company began accepting bids for a new Neighborhood Market on Alcosta Boulevard. A pre-bid meeting for potential contractors will be held at the future store on Feb. 8.
Tenant improvement plans for the 4.05-acre lot at 9100 Alcosta Boulevard (inside the Country Club Village Center) were previously approved by the city, though San Ramon officials did not know the identity of the future retailer.
"No one from Wal-Mart (sic) has contacted the City about plans to lease space and open a store in San Ramon. The City learned of the new store by determining that Wal-Mart is now seeking construction bids for the tenant improvements for a Neighborhood Market in San Ramon," city Marketing and Public Relations Analyst Nicole Blazin said in a statement.
The new store will not be a Walmart Superstore, Blazin continued, but will be a standard full service grocery store similar to a Safeway, Lucky or Nob Hill. As a neighborhood market, the store will be significantly smaller in size and focus on groceries; the owner of the building has not proposed any changes to the existing shopping center.
City officials maintain that the Walmart store will meet all city requirements and regulations, including a ban on overnight parking -- which the retail giant is well known for.
"The new store will create approximately 95 new quality jobs in the community. By using currently vacant property, the Neighborhood Market will help re-energize the existing shopping center, draw customers to neighboring businesses, and ultimately give a boost to the local economy," said Delia Garcia, Walmart West's media director.
One group of San Ramon residents are not excited about the new store, however, and are planning on protesting the Feb. 8 meeting. Pleasanton residents protested the opening of another Neighborhood Market on Santa Rita Road in September 2011. The Pleasanton market could open this summer.
"We are upset because first of all we don't like Walmart because they don't treat their employees fairly, they've got a horrible reputation for treating the environment badly and they know what a bad reputation they have," said a neighborhood resident and member of the group San Ramon for Smart Growth. "I'd rather see that site empty. I'd like to see Trader Joes in there or something that had a more healthy bend to it."
The 10-member group distributed 500 fliers to neighbors warning them of the possible store before Walmart or the city made an official announcement. The Smart Growth member, who wished to remain anonymous, said her group fears that Walmart will clear out the other shopping center tenants and evolve into a Super Walmart.
Country Club Village, which also houses CVS and Anytime Fitness, was designed after extensive public input requested a grocery store. The original anchor for the project was a Ralph's grocery store that closed in 2006. After, an independent Asian grocery briefly occupied the space before closing two years ago.
Since then, no other grocery store has expressed any interest in this location and the neighborhood has been without a local grocery store for several years, Blazin added.
"Lucky's is five minutes away, I have no problem going to Lucky. There's a Safeway in the other direction," the resident said, noting that while her group does want a grocery store, "I think it will give the neighborhood…kind of a low-class image."
According to an advertisement in Dodge Project Center, alteration construction bids are due to Walmart later this month. No construction timeline has been determined.