As weather warms up so does interest in downtown commercial development

By Tamara Steiner on March 25, 2013

Commercial development in downtown Clayton has been at a standstill since 2008, when real estate values plummeted, the economy tanked and the few projects that were in the works dried up. In a lousy economy with skyrocketing unemployment and the banks’ chokehold on credit, no one had any money to invest in a new business or and potential customers had little money to spend on “stuff.”

But, that’s about to change.

Earlier this month, John and Priscilla Canesa re-opened their popular deli at the west end of Main Street after closing over a year ago. And from the frequent lunchtime lines and reports from locals, business looks pretty good.

With several more new businesses at various stages between talking and closing, the Town Center Specific Plan vision of a vibrant downtown filled with restaurants and shops is slowly taking shape.

Creekside Terrace

The city of Clayton is currently in negotiations with “a viable developer” for the Creekside Terrace project on Oak Street, according to Clayton mayor Julie Pierce.

The project, originally called Rivulet, was begun in 2008 by the Komgold Company, the developers of Flora Square at the corner of Oak and Center Streets. In 2009, Komgold went broke and abandoned the Rivulet project. The city still owned the land. So, using Redevelopment Agency funds, it took over the project and finished the architectural plans and completed all the entitlements.

The 7,200-square foot project calls for commercial space on the ground floor and seven apartments upstairs which will go toward fulfilling the city’s affordable housing requirements.

According to Pierce, the developers are serious and qualified and plan to build the project exactly as the city proposed.

“They are in the process of drawing up the construction plans in preparation for bringing the project to the city,” she said.

Flora Square

Across the street, the owners of Flora Square are in “active negotiations” with two new businesses for the ground floor. “That’s all I can say right now,” said a tight-lipped Maryann Quinn of Tioga Construction. “But it will be fun.”

She couldn’t divulge who the businesses are, but they are certain to be retail or restaurant, which is required by the Town Center Specific Plan.

Johnny’s Deli

John Sandhu has sold the delicatessen on the Center Street side of the Village Market. He too is keeping the buyer’s name under wraps. “I can’t tell who it is because there are still contingencies to remove,” he said. He expects the deal to close by mid-April. The family will retain ownership of the building and market and the new deli owner will lease the space from Sandhu.

More downtown development is expected as the city takes title of the 1.66-acre parcel on Main Street, where Clayton Community Church had planned to build a worship center. Earlier this year, the church abandoned their plans for the Main Street site, choosing instead to build on the hill next to Mt. Diablo Elementary. The downtown parcel is prime commercial property and the city is actively seeking a developer.

In addition, Clayton Station owner Chris Kretz says that his center has seen some action in recent months with several new tenants. ComputersUSA moved from across the parking lot to the main strip. Clayton Yoga Shala studio is moving in next to Travel to Go in the spot that was once the quilt shop. Remax Real Estate took over Christina Mason’s space when she moved her dental office to bigger quarters by Safeway.

Kretz says a medical practice will be moving in soon, leaving only two vacancies – one space near Safeway and 700 square feet next to Subway.

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