BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
The office building at 2100 El Camino Real in Palo Alto, which housed the College Terrace Market until it closed in January, has a new owner. But that won’t stop the city from fining the owner $2,240 a day for not providing a grocery store, as required when the building was approved.
An investor group headed by Brian Spiers sold the 57,900-square-foot development to Palo Alto-based Blox Ventures, headed by CEO Jason Oberman. The price wasn’t disclosed. The deal closed on Thursday (June 28).
The building’s major tenant is First Republic Bank.
When the City Council approved the development in 2010, the developer was required to provide an 8,000-square-foot grocery store as a “public benefit” since the project meant the demolition of the old JJ&F Market.
Under an agreement with the city, if the store sits empty longer than six months, the property owner will face daily fines.
Interim Planning Director Jonathan Lait said that starting on July 10, the city will begin issuing $2,240 a day fines to the property owner, which now is Blox.
Oberman told the Post yesterday that he’s been “aggressively” looking for the right tenants for the site and the community. He said he was a former regular at JJ&F.
Before Oberman started Blox, a commercial real estate investment firm, he was acquisitions director for Rockwood Capital and leased more than 5 million square feet of commercial real estate including San Antonio Station in Mountain View, according to a San Jose Business Journals profile in 2015.
Lait said he learned about the new owners on Friday, and has been working on arranging a meeting with Oberman to talk about the market.
Another market closed
This will not be the first vacant grocery store to be fined for sitting empty by the city.
In March 2015, the Fresh Market closed at Edgewood Plaza, near the Highway 101-Embarcadero Road interchange, after less than two years in business.
The closure led the city to fine the developer of the shopping center, Sand Hill Property Co., headed by Peter Pau, for every day the shopping center was without an operating grocery store. The fines totaled more than $1.3 million.
Like College Terrace, the city had required Sand Hill to provide a grocery as a “public benefit” in exchange for the approval of an associated development, in this case the construction of 10 homes.
Dispute over fines
Sand Hill went to court over the fines. A judge on Dec. 15 negated $248,250 of the fines in a dispute over whether the council ordinance allowing the redevelopment required the developer to provide an “operating grocery store” or simply set aside space for a store.
The judge only threw out part of the fines and both sides are expected to resume the battle over the remaining $750,000 in fines.
Meanwhile, a new grocery store opened at Edgewood on Dec. 1. It’s operated by Mustafa and Kyazi Mutlu, who own Crystal Springs Produce, 770 Polhemus Road in San Mateo.