Decision on Arroyo Grande grocery store plan delayed

The question of whether a grocery store will grace one of Arroyo Grande’s gateways will likely be answered another time. The City Council appeared likely Tuesday to continue its discussion on proposals that could add four buildings and low-income housing to East Grand Avenue and South Courtland Street.

South County residents again packed council chambers to hear whether a proposal by developer Nick Tompkins might move forward.

Instead, city staff recommended the council postpone discussion to give them time to further study environmental concerns after receiving a letter from a local resident that raised concerns with a left-hand turn lane at East Grand Avenue onto South Courtland Street.

Tompkins, of NKT Commercial, has proposed constructing a 35,786-square-foot grocery store, two commercial buildings, at 5,800 and 5,700 square feet, and a 6,767-square-foot restaurant.

His original proposal included a 51,000-square-foot Food 4 Less store, but currently no tenants are proposed.

In addition, San Luis Obispo-based Peoples’ Self-Help Housing has proposed to build 36 multifamily units that will be deed-restricted to low- and very low-income tenants.

However, it is the grocery store proposal that has prompted more than 3,000 local residents to sign petitions in opposition to the project and to voice concerns at several meetings, including the building’s close proximity to several other grocery stores, including Cookie Crock Warehouse, Vons and Spencer’s Fresh Market.

An additional 80 residents of the nearby Berry Gardens neighborhood turned in a petition on Monday objecting to the project.

“The area is way over-stored,” said Del Clegg, owner of Cookie Crock at 1221 E. Grand Ave., a few blocks east of the proposed project.

Tompkins also owns the property on which that store is located.

“If they put us out of business, they can redevelop our center,” Clegg said.

Tompkins has said in a previous interview that he does not have plans to redevelop that property, and that tenants there have long-term leases.

City Manager Steve Adams on Tuesday also clarified the city’s role in the project, which he said is limited to determining whether a proposal meets the city’s regulations and standards.

City staff have not advocated for a grocery store, he said, preferring an anchor tenant that would bring in more sales tax revenue from taxable items.