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Is Arroyo Grande getting a hardware store at the vacant Kmart lot?

Get a look inside the new Aldi grocery store in Arroyo Grande

The new Aldi grocery store welcomed customers at its grand opening on Thursday, November, 8, 2018. The store is located on East Grand Avenue store is in the former Cookie Crock location.
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The new Aldi grocery store welcomed customers at its grand opening on Thursday, November, 8, 2018. The store is located on East Grand Avenue store is in the former Cookie Crock location.

The re-development of the old Kmart site in Arroyo Grande just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Seven months after the city Planning Commission approved plans to expand and renovate the building at 1570 W. Branch St. to make room for a grocery store and 24-hour fitness center, the project came back to the city on April 2 with some major additions.

These include a nearly 21,000-square-foot hardware store with a garden center and a new drive-through building in the existing parking lot.

The project will also increase the size of the proposed grocery store to about 23,000 square feet, set aside 7,000 square feet for a dance studio in the back of the building, and split up the remaining lot into two retail spaces of about 6,600 square feet and 10,000 square feet.

According to RRM Design Group Planner Pam Ricci, who has been involved in the various stages of the project, Rick Gambril of Arroyo Grande Commercial LLC is in the process of purchasing the property from current owner Peter Orradre, who proposed the original changes to the property.

The new additions came as a result of negotiations with potential tenants, Ricci said.

Planning Commissioner Ken Sage he liked the mix of proposed businesses at the site on April 2.

“I happen to be a tool junkie, so I like the hardware store,” Sage said during discussion. “Also happen to be a gardener, so I like the garden area. So I think it fills a need since we have lost several of those services here in the area recently.”

The new hardware store could fill a gap left by nearby Orchard Hardware Supply, which closed its Pismo Beach store in November. The city has two other hardware stores, Miner’s Ace Hardware at 186 Station Way and Brisco’s True Value & Lumber Mill at 1005 El Camino Real.

The Planning Commission voted 4-0 in favor of the changes, with Commissioner Glenn Martin abstaining because he is the commercial property manager for the project.

What businesses could be going in?

Ricci said some negotiations for potential tenants of the site are “further along than others,” but that there are specific tenants in mind for the majority of the spaces. She said the only two sites without potential tenants at this time are the two additional retail spaces.

None of the tenants have been specifically announced yet though, leaving the public to speculate on what could fill the spots.

Given the size of the divvied-up spaces, it’s unlikely the hardware store would be a big-box store like Home Depot or Lowe’s Home Improvement, since the average size of those is usually upwards of 100,000 square feet.

The proposed grocery store is slightly smaller than the average square footage of several other mainstream grocery brands such as Whole Foods or Sprouts Farmers Market, which just opened in San Luis Obispo. However, it is larger than the traditional footprint of chains such as Trader Joe’s or Aldi’s — both of which prioritize smaller store experiences.

We do know who will likely fill the dance studio space.

Coastal Dance and Music Academy owner Kathy Schultz confirmed her studio is in negotiation to fill the space at the Planning Commission meeting on April 2. Coastal Dance and Music Academy is currently located at 1030 Huston St. in Grover Beach.

“We are super excited of course about this possibility for our performing arts academy,” Schultz said at the meeting. “When we moved out my garage, our first building was in Arroyo Grande. ... We very much want to get back into Arroyo Grande.”

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