RE: A Different View on GT DEVELOPMENT
Shopping center owner, Viking Investment Properties say they stand ready, willing & able to allow Stater Bros. to expand their current store in any direction they wish. Leasing members met with Stater's management & real estate officials on Wednesday, promising to roll up their sleeves and get a deal done. "Stater's wants a larger 43,000 SF prototype store, complete with bakery, pharmacy and deli.
The intersection of Barton Road & Mt. Vernon has been Stater's home for 26 years, said property manager, Anita McGaughey. "The location of utility easements had prevented us from providing a site plan that met their needs last year. But now with easements addressed and Miguel's moving, we think we can solve any physical problem on site and give Stater's what they want. The idea would be to expand the Stater Bros. store on two sides, while keeping the 25,500 sf store open.
Redevelopment is supposed to bring new tenants to town and increase city sales tax. The Jacobson team should be busy finding new tenants that sell taxable items that would enhance city income and make his project feasible.
The land being sold to him by the city is partially subsidized, because the price of $7.50/sf is less than half the market rate of commercial land that sells in true arms'-length transactions. Our local Mom & Pop tenants cannot afford the $3/sf rent he is asking at the proposed center or at his SavOn site.
Merely moving existing businesses from one center to another could cause blight, not cure it. Redevelopment, public dollars should be used ONLY for the public good, to enhance the quality of life in Grand Terrace.
Jacobson's responsibility under the development agreement is to assemble the land and tenants for his project. He has not done that in 2 years and now wants the city to do it for him with eminent domain.
However, such action by the council against local Grand Terrace property owners, would damage the fabric of this wonderful community. Local property owners, residents and businesses should be free to negotiate the sale of their private property with any buyer, without the interference from third parties or the threat of eminent domain.
A newspaper poll of citizens shows that 83% think that eminent domain land transfers by force for the private gain of developers or big box corporations is morally indefensible. Takings of this type were originally reserved for truly public needs such as roads, schools or fire stations and would best be reserved for only those situations.
The city owns many land parcels around town on which they could build a library. Ideally, it should be located in the new high school where it could be staffed during the day without cost to the city or county. Fontana received a state grant and an award for this innovative solution.
Our city council should thoughtfully explore all options before making such major decisions that will shape the character of Grand Terrace and it's residents for generations to come. We hope the community will be actively engaged in this lively discussion so that the outcome truely reflects the community desires for the reshaping of the entire Barton Road commercial corridor that functions as a responsible and cohesive whole. Then we can all be proud to call this "our town."