San Leandro residents viewed the latest Village Marketplace project plans Tuesday night during a public forum at City Hall.
The plan to bring a neighborhood supermarket, retail shops and a pedestrian plaza to the old Albertson's site on the 1500 block of East 14th Street received mixed reviews as residents provided feedback to Innisfree Ventures president David Irmer and his team.
Irmer was eager to hear from the audience after discussing the plan, which had a Mediterranean feel centered by a tiled plaza and fountain. The site would also accommodate 113 parking spaces as well as bicycles.
“I’m overwhelmed with the turnout,” Irmer said of the nearly 40 people who attended the meeting.
Feedback ranged from excitement over the news that Peet’s Coffee would be among the retail tenants to criticism that the plan “looked like a strip mall.”
Several residents commented that two other businesses mentioned — an AT&T retail store and Chipotle Mexican Grill — did not seem to fit with the overall plan.
The group spent several minutes discussing the choice of the Fresh & Easy supermarket, which has signed up to anchor the site. Residents stressed their desire for more fresh produce options and requested a community meeting with Fresh & Easy staff in hopes the supermarket would tailor the store to the needs of San Leandro consumers.
Residents asked developers to focus on a more personalized look, with retail boutiques and an outside area that would accommodate live music.
San Leandro resident Craig Williams suggested the addition of a health clinic or YMCA facility.
Mayor Stephen Cassidy said the project could break ground in summer 2012, bringing construction jobs in the short term, and more spending and sales tax revenues to a prime location that has been inactive for about five years.
Planning for the project started about 18 months ago. Irmer said about 30 design professionals have taken part in the planning phase. More than 100 workers will be employed during construction, which he hopes will be completed by the end of 2012.
He estimates the supermarket and four other retail tenants would create 75 ongoing retail jobs.
Irmer put a $10 million price tag on the development.
San Leandro Patch Local Editor Tom Abate contributed to this story.