Arroyo Grande Village to get market

After several years without a neighborhood market in the Village, Arroyo Grande residents will once again have a grocery store downtown.

The Arroyo Grande Planning Commission approved plans last month for the Village Market project, which includes a 10,000-square-foot market with an outdoor barbecue eating area.

Developer Nick Tompkins hopes a market will open by next summer. The plan does not require City Council approval.

The project also includes a pedestrian path of decomposed granite that will eventually connect East Branch and Le Point streets.

Tompkins doesn’t have a tenant lined up yet for the market. He said four people have expressed interest in the project, but he declined to identify them.

“I’m trying to find something as unique and as good for the market as we can,” he said.

John Spencer of Spencer’s Fresh Market said he’s interested in the site. However, nothing has been finalized.

“We are very hopeful to get in there,” Spencer said. “We’d love to be in that location. I think the community would love to see us.”

Spencer’s Arroyo Grande store closed in late July, and the employees were moved to other locations, he said. There are four Spencer’s markets on the Central Coast: in Atascadero, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.

Local officials heralded the return of a grocery store to the Village.

“The addition of a market in the Village fulfills an important economic development goal of the city, which has been a priority since the closure of the former J.J.’s Market several years ago,” City Manager Steve Adams said in a news release.

J.J.’s Market closed its doors in early 2009, and since then, the building has stood empty. Last December, a Bakersfield businessman bought the property from Tompkins with plans to open a surf shop.

In March, as the approval process dragged on, Doug DeBerti grew frustrated with what he described at the time as a disconnect between city employees and advisory committee members and put the building up for sale. However, he continued to work on it, and some residents said they saw signs on the building recently.

The city issued a certificate of occupancy, but DeBerti hasn’t picked it up, Community Development Director Teresa McClish said Thursday.

Then, about a week ago, the signs were removed. Tompkins said Thursday that he’s in escrow to buy back the property. DeBerti could not be reached for comment.

Tompkins declined to disclose the purchase price.

“We don’t have any tenants lined up,” Tompkins said. “I hope to do something that works well next to a supermarket, but I don’t know what that’s going to be yet.”