Pleasanton Weekly

News - September 2, 2011

Organic foods market to open in Vintage Hills shopping center

Once facing the wrecking ball, 35-year-old center gaining new lease on life

by Jeb Bing

The long-deteriorating, nearly empty Vintage Hills shopping center that was once facing the wrecking ball is bouncing back to a viable retail center with the announcement this week that a Santa Cruz-based organic food market will move into the old Romley's supermarket space.

"The market is New Leaf Community Market with an emphasis on organics and sustainability, and would be a good fit for the center and the nearby neighborhoods," said Pleasanton Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio. "New Leaf will occupy about 20,000 square feet in the area where the previous grocery store was located."

The process of revitalizing the shopping center has been painfully slow for the 10,000 and more residents who live in Vintage Hills and the newer communities east of there.

Work to repair and rebuild the 35-year-old complex began in earnest after a partnership bought the center from local investor James Tong who planned to redevelop the 5-acre property with two- and three-story apartments and condominiums, with first floor retail businesses, similar to what Dublin has approved on Tassajara Road.

But he abandoned the plan after failing to get enough support from the Pleasanton City Council.

Until last year, only the profitable Cutt Co. and Vintage Hills Cleaners remained as the center's last two tenants as the new retail center owners remodeled and began marketing their property. They've been partly successful with a dance studio, Japanese restaurant, workout gym and coffee and yogurt shops moving in.

But until now, the empty grocery store that many in Vintage Hills fondly remembered as once housing Flair Market and later Romley's brought little interest. Fresh & Easy, Trader Joe's and other smaller groceries turned down bids to move into the center.

This will be New Leaf Community Market's sixth store. A 25-year-old business, New Leaf has its flagship store in the historic Bank of America building on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. Other stores are located in Half Moon Bay, Boulder Creek, Capitola and Felton.

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