Danville Express

Newsfront - December 21, 2007

Fresh and Easy market presents design plans

Grocer will share former Albertsons' space with drugstore

by Natalie O'Neill

The Danville Design Review Board factored a new drugstore tenant into the equation last week, when advising Fresh and Easy representatives to keep colors and design uniform with the rest of the shopping center.

The market will take up about 55 percent of the 26,500-foot vacant building on Diablo Road next to I-680 - where Albertsons once stood. It will likely share signage space with a pharmacy, although the name has not yet been confirmed.

Changes proposed for the building were minor - a green Fresh and Easy sign accompanied by an overhang and green color scheme. The design board gave them the go-ahead to move on the next step, getting a building permit from the town.

Fresh and Easy spokesman Mark Warden said he hoped to open the store in the shortest amount of time possible but couldn't estimate when that would be.

He said part of keeping prices low is through "straight forward" buildings.

"We try to keep our buildings simple," he said. "It's a very clean concept."

Warden said the company philosophy is that everyone should be able to afford healthy food. He came to the Danville meeting straight from a groundbreaking ceremony for a new store in San Francisco's Hunters Point, a low income area.

The grocery store will offer organic produce, fresh sandwiches, meats and cheeses but will cut out secondary items like pet food and medication. In part, this is how they keep their prices low - similar to Trader Joe's philosophy.

Board members said approval would be contingent on the rest of the center being redone. They also noted that green and teal signs from existing tenants clash with the brighter green Fresh and Easy sign. And they considered that most drug store signs have red and blue corporate colors.

"The entire center needs to be cohesive," said board member Jim Wood.

The issue of sign placement was also a topic of discussion as the board reviewed renderings of two sign shapes, one that was long and thin and another that was short and fat.

The space has been vacant for nearly two years and was controlled by Albertsons. Owners had to buy back the lease in order to get another grocery store up and running.

Co-owner Ted Peterson told the board he regretted having the space vacant for so long, but that he was not in control of the lease.

"We were dealing with a group out of Chicago and it was really about money," he said.

The Fresh and Easy Web site expresses its dedication to reducing its impact on the environment, structurally and functionally at its stores. An effort to make the building structure more green, however, wasn't discussed at the Design Review Board.

Green Valley Center is currently home to Taco Bell, Christy's Doughnuts, China Bistro, Diablo Printing and a photo shop.

Peterson said Danville couldn't ask for a better tenant than Fresh and Easy.

The company is part of Tesco, the United Kingdom's largest retailer.

"We're really excited about what they represent," Peterson said.


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