Over the weekend one of my friends asked me if I knew what was going on with the commercial development at Buena Vista and Sherman. I responded, what commercial development? She replied that she saw a huge sign for an international marketplace, or something along those lines at the old Del Monte building site.
Turns out, it appears that Peter Wang, the owner of the Del Monte building site and surrounding property has hired a commercial brokerage firm, GD Commercial, to begin leasing out space for the site which is now being called “Encinal Marina Foods.” The full package listing, I assume this is for potential leasees, is here. But here is the two-pager which outlines what sort of businesses they are looking for, which includes a:
- Grocery Store (40K sq ft)
- Restaurant (6K sq ft)
- Sushi Bar (866 sq ft)
- Salad Bar (216 sq ft)
- Ramen Bar (518 sq ft)
- Bakery (833 sq ft)
- Dessert Stand (195 sq ft)
Just a note from the Sushi Bar on, those would be included in some type of “food court”, which according to this diagram includes a juice bar which was not included on the list. I am assuming that the “dessert stand” and “ice cream shop” are interchangable as “ice cream shop” is not specifically listed on the 2 pager of businesses wanted.
Another business missing is the “bookstore” at 730 sq ft, which means they probably already have an interested tenant.
So, if the term “international marketplace” had not tipped you off yet. Nor did the Ramen bar, nor did the specs of the grocery store (p.6 on the reader, enlarge and navigate) which included a “live fish tank” in the Seafood section or the entire shelving section devoted to rice. Yes, Alameda, if all goes to plan, we are getting our own Asian grocery store and marketplace. Squeee!!
Highlights from a recent article about GD Commercial from the San Jose Business Journal:
Developers trying to lure shoppers to their centers are turning to a Milpitas commercial brokerage that offers a different retail palette — all Asian, all the time.
GD Commercial, in operation since 2003, has become a go-to real estate company for developers who want an alternative to the well-known bigbox stores that fill Bay Area shopping centers.
John Luk, a veteran broker with GD, has one word to describe most of these malls: “Boring.” He knows that developers and city officials value well-known retailers for their credit-worthiness and ability to draw shoppers, but he says the market is oversaturated.
“It’s the same thing again and again and again: Applebee’s, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s,” Luk says…
Luk and the 25 brokers at GD mine the Asian business community to find retailers who serve the growing Asian population. They know the people and, more importantly, they know what’s on their shopping list and work to bring those businesses into the shopping centers.
As Luk puts it, “Every Asian wants to buy live fish.”
“My vision is if the demographic is strong enough — more than 20 to 30 percent Asian — and it’s the right land use in the right location with a willing developer, then come to me. We offer
certainty,” he says.
Firmly entrenched in the South Bay, GD Commercial has branched into Alameda, where the company is working on Encinal Del Monte, a 70,000-squarefoot indoor international market located near the water.
While I would disagree with Mr. Luk that EVERY Asian person wants to buy live fish, I would say that a lot of us would like to buy fresh fish and have the grocery store butcher and deep fry it for us (which is a service offered at many large Asian grocery stores, but not at the tiny rinky dink ones in Oakland Chinatown).
It would appear though the Mr. Luk must have already lured the potential grocery store tenant to the site already, otherwise why name the development “Encinal Marina Foods”? Marina Foods, for those that do not know, is an Asian grocery store chain, the closest one to Alameda is in Union City/Fremont. If they were still trying to lure an anchor like a 99 Ranch or Lion, they certainly wouldn’t be naming the marketplace after one of their main competitors.
I have to say that I am super excited about this project. Sometimes there are just some things that you cannot get at your Lucky’s, Safeway, Trader Joes, or Nob Hill for asian cooking. Rather than refrigerated cases being full of frozen pizzas and lean cuisine, they’ll be full of things like mochi and chive cakes. Or instead of produce sections filled with bagged and pre-washed lettuce and apples, you’ll find things like taro root, daikon, and durian. And most importantly you’ll find in the meat section an assortment of bones essential for making soup stock for staples like pho. Did I mention the fresh noodles as well?
According to the Planning Department, this has not yet gone to the Planning Board for conditional use permit (30K threshhold) because apparently Conditional Use Permits, once given, is only valid for one year so if the project is still a few years out, they’ll wait until they are ready to rehabilitate the interior before putting in an application.