Now that Wal-Mart’s 26-acre chunk of prime Atascadero real estate is on the market, it’s time to indulge in some wishful thinking: What should occupy the corner of Del Rio Road and El Camino Real?
The sky’s the limit .... sort of. Wal-Mart does own the property, and it’s doubtful that it would allow another big-box retailer to set up shop.
According to the city of Atascadero, Wal-Mart will likely sell the property with deed restrictions prohibiting a grocery, supermarket, pharmacy or any similar store larger than 12,000 square feet.
In other words, Wal-Mart has broken up with Atascadero, but it doesn’t want Costco moving in.
Not to worry — there are other possibilities.
Some readers weighing in on The Tribune’s Facebook page have suggested several, including what they absolutely DO NOT want to see there.
“No more hotels or vineyards! No mattress stores or dollar stores! No mini or otherwise storage! No industrial or office complex that will sit ugly and vacant for decades! No more restaurants or drive-throughs and definitely not a fourth Starbucks!” one reader posted on Facebook.
Now, on to what readers do want:
A few mention affordable housing, prompting this tongue-in-cheek response: “That’s crazy talk, good sir! You gosh darn know we don’t take politely to affordable housing ’round these parts.”
Another reader suggests non-affordable housing, and a jokester favors building an Atascadero branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. (In case you’ve forgotten, that’s where the folks at “The Office” worked.)
Most ideas — some serious, others not so much — revolve around eating, drinking, shopping and recreating, including:
- A Panda Express;
- Jamba Juice;
- A Kelly Slater wave pool;
- Crate and Barrel;
- A skating rink for minor league hockey;
- Miniature golf;
Speaking of sports, there is considerable interest in an aquatics center, which sounds great but wouldn’t generate much tax revenue for the city.
Another favorite is Dave & Buster’s, a national chain that advertises itself as a place to “Eat, drink, play & watch sports, all under one roof.”
It’s like a Chuck-E-Cheese’s for adults.
Perfect — but Atascadero better hurry up and build one before Santa Maria does.
In case you haven’t been there for a while, Santa Maria has everything: a six-lane freeway, a ginormous Costco, Lowe’s and Home Depot, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, HomeGoods, Best Buy, a Walmart and a Walmart Neighborhood Market, TJ Maxx, Macy’s, Black Bear Diner (which was also on the wish list for Atascadero), Krispy Kreme, Chick-fil-A, a mini-golf course and a Chuck-E-Cheese’s. It’s even getting a Cracker Barrel!
Notice what’s missing from that list?
Sure, that’s a reach for Atascadero. But how about a Nordstrom Rack?
That would be an excellent fit for the city. It would draw customers from throughout the region, generate lots of sales tax and increase foot traffic at other shops and restaurants.
Wal-Mart might look upon it as a big box, but it’s not. It’s a Nordie’s, only less expensive.
And on that 26 acres, there would be plenty of space left over for mini-golf, a Dave & Busters and — who knows? — maybe even enough room to squeeze in a small mattress shop and a fourth Starbucks.