DanvilleSanRamon.com

Perspective - May 18, 2007

When the big guys take over

It was a blow indeed to learn that the former Albertsons site on Diablo Road near the freeway could remain vacant for 11 years. The supermarket was the heart of the Green Valley Center, conveniently located on Diablo Road right next to I-680.

Cerberus, the $60 billion corporation that just purchased Chrysler, bought the Albertsons supermarket chain in January 2006. It closed the Albertsons on Diablo Road last June, along with 36 others throughout Northern California, but left open the store on San Ramon Valley Boulevard plus the other one on Crow Canyon Road, also near I-680.

It might make business sense for Cerberus not to allow another supermarket in the Diablo Road location that would be competition to its stores that remain open. But talk about being a bad citizen!

When giant corporations, from Safeway to Chevron, locate in an area, they usually strive to be an addition to the community, sending their employees out to participate in neighborhood projects plus donating funds to schools and other nonprofit groups. Usually they bend over backwards to give back to the community as they make a profit from it. In return, the good publicity generates customer loyalty. Instead Cerberus, like the three-headed dog of the same name in Greek mythology that guards the gates of Hades, is proving itself to be unfriendly.

Perhaps the courts will find Cerberus is in control of the lease, tying up the property for the next 11 years. But what a great public relations coup it would be to release the property so that Green Valley Center could again live up to its potential. Perhaps a supermarket would move in, perhaps another business would set up shop, but an anchor tenant would bring customers to the smaller stores that moved into the center depending on the Albertsons' draw.

Owners of the mom-and-pop shops in the center need an anchor tenant to draw people to their businesses. And the neighbors of Green Valley Center deserve to have a thriving shopping center in their midst. If only the giant Cerberus would re-evaluate its standing in the community.

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