You can bring water to the horse but you can’t make the horse drink it is an old saw. But what if you remodel a supermarket and bring it the edge of a major street instead of letting it languish behind an expansive parking lot? Would that get more people to shop in the reconfigured business?
Pavilions, the supermarket located on the northwest corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Monterey Road, is betting on just such an idea. It’s thinking about moving the store closer to Fair Oaks, while creating a parking lot behind the supermarket.
And not just that. Safeway, the company that owns both Pavilions and the land on which the Fair Oaks store is located, could spend as much as $30 million on the upgrade. (Safeway also owns the neighboring Vons, but not the land on which it’s located.)
To some people, the plan just doesn’t make sense, even allowing for the fact that Pavilions isn't exactly a high-visibility business bordering one of South Pasadena's busiest thoroughfares. After all, would mere street appeal really bring in more shoppers?
Whether or not a reconfigured Pavilions will attract more people, the idea is a winner for South Pasadena, and the first city official to publicly mention it was Councilmember Michael Cacciotti at the most recent city council meeting in December.
“If a company is willing to invest $30 million in a store in South Pas we certainly welcome it,” says City Manger Sergio Gonzalez, who has been in touch with Pavilions’ representatives regarding their proposed plans.
“They do have an outdated store and are looking at improving its appearance," adds Gonzalez. "That is going to have a ripple effect in that area of South Pas, which doesn’t really have an anchor—no defining characteristics.”
For its part, Safeway has yet to draw up any detailed plans, let alone make any formal announcements. Any talk about moving its South Pasadena store closer to Fair Oaks is therefore the result of “very preliminary discussions with members of the City Council and staff outlining only the macro parameters of plans for this site,” says Vons Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations Carlos Illingworth. “The purpose was to solicit feedback from the city and gauge their level of support.”
A community meeting aimed at getting residents’ views is expected to be scheduled later this month or in February, Illingworth told South Pasadena Pach.
In any case, this wouldn’t be the first time Pavilions has reconfigured a store. The Pavilions on 2355 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena was also updated and brought closer to the sidewalk, according to Gonzalez.
The city manager acknowledges that some people have mixed feelings about changing the current Pavilions’ layout in South Pas because it has plenty of high-visibility parking in front and it’s easy to get in and out.
“But that sends a message that it’s a car-dominated kind of area,” argues Gonzalez. “And what we’ve always tried to push here in South Pas is that we’re a very pedestrian, bike-friendly community. When you have a store that’s built up to the sidewalk, you get an increase in people walking there and shopping at the business."
Pavilions also wants to put some distance between the store and the residential area behind it in an effort to reduce noise levels, points out Gonzalez. The store’s proximity to Fair Oaks would move the supermarket’s loading and unloading operations away from residences located in the rear.
Yet another bonus from reconfiguring Pavilions? “We understand that they would also be introducing two or three new tenants to the site,” says Gonzalez, hastening to add that he hopes none of them will be massage establishments or hair and nail salons, which bring zero taxes to the city.
In fact, Pavilions’ representatives “weren’t surprised to hear what we wouldn’t like to see there,” says Gonzalez. “We want to look at the complete experience—a place were you shop, eat, read a book. They received the same kind of feedback when they did the remodeling in Pasadena—they’re sensitive to that.”