Danville Express

Newsfront - January 12, 2007

Home Depot YardBirds schedules opening in April

Store promises to carry the nuts and bolts of everyday life

by Natalie O'Neill

When the winter starts to fade, gardening and home improvement projects won't have to be put on the back burner any longer.

YardBirds patrons who pine for the reopening of their neighborhood hardware store will have their shop back in time for spring, Home Depot West Coast spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher said this week. The new Home Depot YardBirds is now planned to open April 19.

At an initial community meeting in July, Home Depot representative Tim Seymour set November 2007 as a likely opening date. But after an approval process with both Alamo Improvement Association and the county, Gallagher said it will open this spring.

"We're on target," Gallagher said. "The Alamo store is in the early stages of demolition and remodeling right now."

The store has been designed to meet the everyday home improvement needs of patrons as well as providing supplies for remodeling the interior of homes, she said. Small plumbing, electrical, wall patch and repair products, light bulbs and picture hooks will be central to the store.

In past months Alamo residents have been concerned that the store will lack basic home maintenance needs and focus too much on fancy appliances and interior design. But Gallagher assured that the store will have a balance of tools and hardware items, citing door locks, nuts, bolts and fasteners as staples.

"We're seeking to capture the essence of the neighborhood hardware store that YardBirds was known for, accented with key attributes from Home Depot," she said.

The approval process between AIA and Home Depot went smoothly overall and hit only a couple of major bumps in the road, members of AIA said. One of those bumps was whether loading from the rear of the store should be permitted.

Alamo residents who live close to the store said loading trucks in the morning would cause noise too early. And some AIA members believed it would create a storage area even more unsightly than the disheveled old YardBirds area. This caused a point of tension between AIA and Home Depot.

"There was a bit of a debate going on between AIA and Home Depot," said AIA member Mike Gibson.

Contra Costa County officials came down on the side of the AIA recommendation, and residents who live along that portion of the Iron Horse Trail breathed a sigh of relief. This will keep loading trucks and forklifts from dropping off goods along the Trail.

Meanwhile, frustrated merchants in Las Trampas Center said AIA was being too nitpicky with this and other requests. The merchants said they were upset with AIA for drawing the process out, and some also noted that their profits had gone down significantly without YardBirds as a major business draw.

AIA President Preston Taylor said his group had put in much time and effort and even had Saturday meetings to move the process forward.

"I was surprised," Gibson added, about the criticism. "We were putting a lot of time into it."

Other AIA members said issues like parking, signage and store aesthetics needed to be hammered out and couldn't be rushed. Merchant priorities, however, were simply to get it open quickly and resume the flow of customers into Las Trampas Center.

"We didn't think they would fold up their tent and go home just because they had to plant a few trees," Gibson said.

With the April 19 opening, customer service will also be a large point of focus, Gallagher said.

"It will provide a warm shopping environment," she said.

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