DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - May 11, 2007

Old supermarket site may stay vacant for awhile

11-year Albertsons lease is being disputed

by Natalie O'Neill

The large vacant space in Green Valley Center on Diablo Road, where Albertsons once stood, won't be filled anytime soon.

A lawsuit between the property owner Bill Tribolet and Cerberus, the giant corporation that bought out Albertson's in January 2006, is in the works, town officials and leasing agents said last week.

"There's a dispute over who controls the lease on the building," Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said at the informal mayor's coffee.

Representatives for Terranomics, the company in charge of leasing that space, said efforts to put in a new store are now on hold.

"It's pending due to litigation," said Annie Janbuka, a Terranomics marketing representative.

Several phone calls to both Tribolet and Cerberus spokesman Peter Duda were not returned by press time to comment on the litigation. Duda, who does media relations for the corporation, based out of New York City, said initially he was not aware of a lawsuit.

But Calabrigo and Janbuka indicated the conflict was over whether Albertsons, kept under the same name but now owned by Cerberus, should be able to continue the same leasing agreement. The company still has 11 years left on the lease.

The space has been empty since last June, when surrounding business owners in Green Valley Center said they hoped the space would be filled quickly by another grocery store. Albertsons previously served as the major draw to the Green Valley Center, merchants said.

"What makes sense for the property owner makes sense for the town but there are big bucks at stake," Calabrigo said.

An existing Albertsons is located on San Ramon Valley Boulevard, which now only competes with Lunardi's and Trader Joe's for grocery shoppers in the downtown Danville area.

Cerberus, a corporation that keeps a low profile, owns companies that currently generate about $60 billion in annual revenues - more than Disney, McDonalds, or Apple Inc.

"Their position is they control the lease," Calabrigo said.

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