As Save-A-Lot and Miracle Shopping Center Close, Redevelopment Plans Continue

A new shopping center may include a Starbucks, Fresh & Easy and Panda Express, but local residents are concerned about where the city's less-well-off will shop.

Tenants of the Miracle Shopping Center at 9th Street and Palm Avenue are required to vacate the property by March 14 as part of a redevelopment project that has relocated or closed 14 businesses.

Save-A-Lot, formerly Save-U-Foods, closed Friday.

Plans to demolish and rebuild the shopping center will continue once the building is empty and the City completes an environmental impact report, according to Imperial Beach Redevelopment Agency director Gerry Selby.

Jim Sides, a former tenant and co-owner of Inner Visions Smoke Shop, said he is concerned for residents who rely on the low prices at Save-U-Foods and do not have a car to drive elsewhere.

“The ones that ride their bikes and carry their groceries on the handlebars,” he explained.

“There are a lot of low-income people in IB who will be effected,” said Carol Colbert, a 35-year resident of IB who was shopping with her daughter Teresa at Save-A-Lot Friday.

“It’s going to be a struggle to survive, just getting diapers and food,” said Teresa, who does not own a car. 

Save-A-Lot’s general manager Abraham, who declined to give his last name, agrees many of the store’s patrons rely on government assistance like the WIC nutrition program or EBT public assistance and will be affected by the closure.

After Save-A-Lot's closure, two other businesses that sell fruits and vegetables remain in Imperial Beach. In addition, a is held every Friday from 2-6 p.m.

The relocation process has carried on longer than others of its kind, Selby said, and Save-A-Lot, Goodwill and Southbay Drugs were supposed to be out by the end of February.

"I have no more time to give them,” Selby said. "We've got a developer going forward, tearing down in late spring, April to June."

The Imperial Beach City Council, which also act as the city's redevelopment agency, purchased the complex at 9th Street and Palm Avenue for $9.6 million in 2009.

Relocation is being coordinated by Epic Land Solutions. After the building is demolished, Sudberry Properties has agreed to build a new shopping center. A contract between Sudberry and the redevelopment agency is still being negotiated, Selby said.

New tenants of the redeveloped property will be determined by the IB City General Plan and the IB Redevelopment Plan, which stipulates that a brand-name grocery store and businesses serving niche markets be included.

Demographics, the number of families and the number of other local competitors, like the Vons on Saturn Avenue or Wally's across the street will be taken into account he said.

Current potential tenants are the Fresh & Easy, Starbucks and Panda Express chain stores, as well as other locally-owned or franchised businesses, like a dry-cleaner and hair salon, he said.

At the Dec. 15 City Council meeting, an exclusive negotiation agreement between the IB Redevelopement Agency and Sudberry was extended another 120 days to await an agreement with Caltrans over how to include direct access onto the property.

The new design will allow patrons traveling in both directions on State Route 75 to access the new shopping center once the intersection at Delaware Street is reconstructed, Selby said.

 “The demographics in IB are prohibitive to the kinds of businesses that will move in there. That’s silly to me” said Debbie Sydes, a former tenant and owner of Inner Visions Smoke Shop.

She used the Chili's restaurant chain as an example of a business that could afford to pay rent in the new shopping center, but the restaurant would need people who make more than a $30,000 median household income to justify opening a restaurant.

Mike Hayward, 47, of Imperial Beach is “a Blues man” who used to play the guitar at New Song Church, a part of the shopping center until a few years ago.

Hayward has shopped at Save-A-Lot or Save-U-Foods since he came to town 10 years ago and plans to continue shopping at their nearest location in Chula Vista.

“Trying to get by on less than $30,000 and support a family is not easy,” he said.

“Everybody I know in IB counts on it,” he said. “The people that are even poorer then I am are kind of screwed.”

He went on to call City Council "a bunch of property developing land barons.

"They don’t want modest earners and poverty level residency,” he said. "They want this to be Coronado Junior."

“They want this to be Eastlake or get that miniature Orange County look, where everything looks homogenized and the same,” he said.

Hayward said he enjoys the city's diversity, from families to bikers to Navy SEALS, low riders and the average Joes "that slide down the dinosaur tail when the whistle blows,” he said, making a reference to The Flinstones.

“You’ll see a guy who looks like Santa Claus ride out on a '56 Panhead [Harley Davidson]," he said.

“I like IB. I like seeing a fat guy with a beard.”

Kenneth Rauen March 05, 2011 at 06:35 AM
We need more Hayward's and less Selby's.
Janis Tena March 05, 2011 at 03:56 PM
I also agree with Hayward, we need to stay simple. Wally's needs to be out of the picture it's an over glorified 7/11 that stinks.
Shorebird March 05, 2011 at 04:33 PM
The history of our recent city council was frequently more odorous than Wallys. But if you dont attend council meetings and pay attention you wont know what they are doing with Your Money until you see the bill. The millions of redevelopment money they frittered away on Pacifica projects and the 9th street boondoggle are prime examples. Who really profited??
Ivy Sayers March 05, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Come on - give Imperial Beach a little credit - you make it sound like everyone in the town rides a bike for transportation, doesn't have an education or wants IB to stay the same. It's time to let the people have some better choices - and I don't mean "Chilie's Restaurant" - but it would be great to have a Henry's that will let us have good produce available at affordable prices. We don't need the little stores like "Inner Vision" - is that really a business that appeals to the majority of our town? Stop making Imperial Beach sound like it's not a family oriented place where everyone has to live with financial assistance. The people I know really don't want another Coronado, but they do want something to be proud of and businesses that will finally give people some choices. No one I know really ever enjoyed that shopping center with its facilities unpleasing to the eye - and being in the center of town, it's an eye sore to visitors. IB's tax payers and citizens deserve better.
Sonya March 05, 2011 at 11:24 PM
I vote for a Henry's or Trader Joes as a replacement to Save U Foods. If you have ever shopped at either store you would see they are affordable in many ways and offer a variety of products we lack in this community. The large chain grocery stores have high prices for mediocre product. Henrys or Trader Joes would offer us healthy food and products at affordable prices. Hey I shopped at Save U Foods as well for our coffee, creamer; bananas and bread but that is it, they had a lot of no name junk food I would not buy. This is a necessary change that is well overdue. We are growing as a city and this mall was a huge eye sore for the community. As a home owner and proud to live in Imperial Beach I welcome this redevelopment. I just hope the stores that are chosen to go into the mall are well thought out and keep the entire community needs in mind, and not just a subset.
Ms Cypress March 06, 2011 at 12:47 AM
A Fresh and Easy would benefit our town in a big way! The prices are great and the quality is soo much better than Save-u-foods. Of course we'll miss the .$99 Save-u-foods spices but now we'll be able to get fresh herbs for $.59. Don't knock F&E as some fancy smchmancy foo-foo store, beacause that it aint! Go check out the store on East H, it'll be a great healthy and econmical fit for ALL the people in IB. There's my two cents and I cant wait to spend it in the new shopping center.
Shari Austin March 06, 2011 at 01:43 AM
As a disabled person who does not have a vehicle, Save-U-Foods was the only grocery store I could access and afford in Imperial Beach. Wally's is so expensive and as Janis Tena pointed out...it stinks...literally in there. I too have heard great things about fresh and easy. I guess my question is, where do we shop in the meantime. It's much harder for those who don't have vehicles to get to East H than those who have vehicles. I am blessed as I have friends who help me out with grocery store runs.
lyn cash March 07, 2011 at 01:28 AM
we know the city counical thinks with its wallet not what the people want its always about money not the people they line there pockets while we all deal with the fall out
Dick Pilgrim March 07, 2011 at 05:04 AM
I want to see IB remain a diverse city that supports facilities that meet the needs of everyone - but I don't think that means we need to put up with rundown buildings to support that economic diversity. If the owners of Sav U Foods really believe that they can serve this community then they should actively seek a new location. I don't see why IB has to put up with an eyesore like the old Miracle Mile to subsidize any store. I can't wait to see that eyesore torn down. I'm with Ms Cypress, I'll be happy to add my two cents to hers in the new shopping center.
Kay Kardian March 10, 2011 at 07:22 PM
I so agree with your statement about Wally's..you know the Mayor and Wally's are buddies..yes it stinks I have lived in IB for 20 yrs..it stunk then and it still stinks inside..their prices are outragious and I have bought meat there and took it home and it is badddddd...so badddddddd..I take it back each time. Hate that store!!
Kay Kardian March 10, 2011 at 07:27 PM
I agree with you about attending the council meetings..everyone should attend including myself..the reason a lot of citizens don't go is because the council people think they are GODS and if you disagree with them on issues they don't pay attention to you..the people who run this city are not citizen concern people and they laugh at you when you leave if you have a complaint that does not suit their ideas..we need to get rid of those people and bring in new blood that cares about the citizens instead of their portfolios and wallets.
Kay Kardian March 10, 2011 at 07:35 PM
So many subjects that touches that I have to touch on today..I agree with you the shopping center is very old and dated. It needs to be changed and omg not another mexican restaurant.. I don't want it to be like Coronado either.. but I will have to agree that IB is not geared to families...they priorities are giving out parking tickets in two hour parking when the sighs NO PARKING has not even been posted yet.. I observed someone the other day getting a parking ticket on Palm Ave when I ask what are they getting a ticket for the reply was its only a two hour parking, I said wheres the sighs that says that they said "They are coming" I just walked away shaking my head..thats IB for you..putting the cart before the horse..anyway back to the shopping center a Henry's would be nice their prices are good on vegatables and fruits. The farmers market is so overpriced that I will not shop there.. wally's is cheaper than the farmers market.. and yes we deserve better..
Sonya March 10, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Kay you had a made point about our council members, but sadly if you look at the number of people who recently turned out to vote for our Current Council and Mayor the numbers were very low. I found it very disappointing that our fellow community could not take the time to show up and vote. If we want a voice in this community it is up to every individual to participate. I agree with all the comments about Wally’s and recently just went to La Posta Market on Coronado Ave. and found their prices on vegetables very reasonable with a clean non smelly environment. They also have great price on meat but I did not purchase any that day to make a comment at this time. They may be a good alternative for those of us that do not want to shop at Wally’s or the bigger stores like Vons and Albertson's. I love Henry’s but also liked Ms Cypress's suggestion of a Fresh and Easy. I have yet to go to one but they do have a website and look very affordable, healthy and green. I agree with no more Mexican restaurants and would love to see an affordable restaurant that offers great salads with mixed greens NOT iceberg. We have too much junk food in this town and need more healthy alternatives to eating out.
Janis Tena March 11, 2011 at 02:26 AM
I have been to a Fresh and Easy, they are a good store good prices like Sav u Foods. Fresh and Easy or Henry's would be great. Trader Joe's not to sure on that there prices are high. Something other than Wally's. Still don't understand why they didn't tear that place down when they did that stopping center. So sorry that Southbay pharmacy went, they had the best craft beers. But I do know that, that shopping center was an eye sore I sure will miss it.
Kay Kardian March 11, 2011 at 06:15 AM
thank you Sonya..i have never been to a Fresh n Easy...actually never heard of it.. I just don't know why more of our citizens do not get involved in IB..and the politics..including myself we can criticize but just do not fight, thats why they get away with so much. Maybe we should put posters up and a rally to get the people here to support their city and demand some changes. I will do anything if I know the citizens would back it up..maybe not all but at least 20% hopefully..thank you for the info I appreciate your comment..:)
Kay Kardian March 11, 2011 at 06:16 AM
Richard we need more support from our citizens lets rally for our citizens to attend the council meetings..including myself..thanks for your comments
Kay Kardian March 11, 2011 at 06:17 AM
If we all go to the counil meetings we can make a difference..
Mike Hayward March 12, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Kay Kardian March 12, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Its so sad I will be so glad when their terms run out..I keep saying that but as Sonya mentioned the people will not get out and vote its so sad. Look at the people in Bell CA they got tired of the corruption in their little town and I admire them for forcing the officials out of office..they robbed that city and now a few of them is sitting in jail..good job Bell citizens..come to IB and give us instructions on how you did it. I really appreciate the feedback from all of you but its just words lets get out and show action..
Pop Quiz March 27, 2011 at 01:34 AM
My uncle once said "champagne taste with a beer budget". It is very obvious the our citizens supported Save-U-Foods. Why not let them back into the new mall? Hey if Fresh and Easy or Trader Joe's can go head to head with them that is good for all of us. I would bet Save-U-foods would be the last one standing given a fair fight. I shop Von's and used to also shop Sav-U, it was a great mix. I think those of us with a few more bucks better consider those less fortunate and /or less mobile. People did not necessarily "want" to shop there. It was what they could afford. So when we get our new boutique grocery store, are we being inclusive of our town? I want to drive a Vette, fact is i can't afford one. I still have to drive to work. By the way, How many condos are we jamming in there?
nlj March 28, 2011 at 05:03 AM
I think it'll be great!!! I've lived here all 50 years of my life. I love this town, and I'mlooking forward to the upgrades being planned. I try to shop locally, but have very limited choices.
Dante Pamintuan March 28, 2011 at 03:37 PM
The City Heights area of San Diego incorporated a great concept with the City Of San Diego called "Shopkeeper". It is a mixed use idea of storefront on the bottom and living quarters upstairs. It was also subsidized with grants within a designated business zone to eliminate blight and improve the neighborhood. Take a look at Adams Ave and Marlborough Ave in Kensington and you will see how they managed to keep the small town look and feel while providing affordable places to shop. Imperial Beach can achieve this same concept and maintain it's "Classic" beach town image as well as provide affordable venues for all of it's residences. But it requires citizens to attend council meetings and get involved. Words are words. Action gets results! What are you going to do about it?
Dante Pamintuan March 28, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Here's a link to an picture example of a shopkeeper design: http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRU__aX3aFVyu1V2bd_SktbhArzyY6Tf3K4SlvNzE0YzWlHt_oW
nlj March 28, 2011 at 05:40 PM
beautiful I love it Dante!!!
Kay Kardian March 28, 2011 at 06:30 PM
The next Council meeting is April 6, 2011 at 6:00. I will be there so looking forward to seeing more citizens at the meeting. Lets all show that we do support Imperial Beach.
Pop Quiz March 30, 2011 at 04:27 AM
Support Imperial Beach? Which one? The investors dream where IB ends up looking like every other beige, Mediterranean styled,over crowed beach city? With the city's pretend HOA officers forcing compliance to arbitrary opinion laws? Or the one you and i moved to (or were born into) for it's genuine, low key, unpretentious life we love. I would prefer more helos over more crowding , more traffic, more condos, malls, amusement parks, stadiums, It has been a long observed tradition for people to move here and want IB to be more like PB, Coronado, Del Mar..... The separation is historically usually drawn along length of residency lines. Why is that? "watch your step at the wishing well" Jimmy Buffett
Dante Pamintuan March 30, 2011 at 06:23 PM
The goal is to design a very eye pleasing business district that incorporates convenience, beauty and functionality at this site for ALL IB residents. The issue never addresses overcrowding, increased traffic and more people. Frankly, I would like to see a Trader Joes there that would attract the folks living in Coronado Cays as well as the traffic going up and down Palm from Coronado. Lifestyle choices are a basic American right. More business in IB means more improvements to our city of 30,000. Besides, I don't see how more people can move here if our City Council is doing a good job of regulating home and condo development and encouraging redevelopment projects for our community. Give the council credit. They seem to be maintaining the status quo of limited growth and classic small town IB while staying within the parameters of architectural beauty and function.
Vicki Inghram September 17, 2011 at 04:56 PM
YES!!! THANK YOU!!!!! As a resident and property owner of the Cays and I.B. I would love to see a Trader Joe's go in there. There is such a huge need to have a store like that here....and it would provide jobs. There is a huge opportunity here to grow and progress.....and make the Palm Avenue area an inviting place for everyone.
Vicki Inghram September 17, 2011 at 05:01 PM
A Trader Joe's is a no brainer....


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