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The Santa Rosa City Council voted 5-2 against a proposed Lowe’s Home Improvement store at an industrial site on Yolanda Avenue amid questions about the environmental impact of the project and the potential to hurt local business. At the Sept. 1 council hearing, several leaders of major businesses in the city advocated opposition to the proposal.

Meanwhile, on July 21 the Vallejo Planning Division approved a proposed Lowe’s store on the site of a former Mazda and Hyundai dealership in the auto row near Interstate 80. Lowe’s switched plans from building a store in the Napa Junction development in neighboring American Canyon in 2006.

No comments were submitted in the 60-day period, according to Vallejo senior economic development analyst Annette Taylor.

An environmental-impact report had been conducted for the area previously, so only a mitigated negative declaration of environmental impacts was required and zoning was consistent with the use, so the planning division could approve the application.

A deal between the Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer and Vallejo property owner Ken Ross of Team Superstores was pending at press time.

Other retailers are active in Vallejo, despite the city’s being in bankruptcy protection, according to Ms. Taylor.

Automotive parts retailer AutoZone just inked a 15-year ground lease for a little more than a half-acre of land at 3020 Sonoma Blvd. The Memphis-based retailer has been looking to relocate its Vallejo store from 730 Admiral Callaghan Lane to a new prototypical building at this site for a few years, and now the company has applied for building permits for a 7,800-square-foot store. The retailer has eight other North Bay stores. Jon Stansbury of Terranomics represented AutoZone in the lease with owner Joe Khayat.

Also Bed Bath & Beyond is occupying a shuttered Linens n’ Things store in Gateway Plaza.

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Santa Rosa-based KriStar Enterprises Inc., which popularized erosion-control systems years ago, released a new line of products called the POD Water Management System to address increasing regulatory requirements to mimic the watershed hydrology and water treatment capabilities of a site before construction, paving and similar work.

Called low-impact development, or LID, this methodology seeks to limit the flow of rainwater, and thus erosion, off a site and clean contaminants such as sediment and petroleum products. The approach seeks to improve water quality and reduce the need to upgrade stormwater-handling infrastructure.

The Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board – which oversees southern Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties as well as most of Marin County – recently began including three tiers of best-management practices in discharge permits.

First, water should be retained on site to percolate into the soil. Second, any water that leaves the property should be treated via landscaping such as a tree boxes in sidewalks or "bioswales," which are grass-lined ditches.

Informal practice among water-quality regulators for the past couple of years has been to call for the first two tiers of water handling, with ample explanation given for why a manufactured system should be used, according to Jon McDonald, KriStar engineering services manager.

"We anticipate we'll have to put emphasis on products that will serve demand for hydrological and landscape-based treatment solutions," he said.

To address the hydrological aspect KriStar formed Cudo Stormwater Systems Inc. early this year to produce a modular water-handling product called Cudo Cube, which can be configured as a cistern.

[caption id="attachment_14976" align="alignright" width="288" caption="KriStar's POD Water Management System components with Cudo Cube storage modules."][/caption]

The POD line has seven products, including Swale-Pod to help bioswales work better with less maintenance such as removing trash and sediment. KriStar had to obtain  has required clarification from the North Coast and Bay Area water boards on whether the TreePod Biofilter is a tier 2 or tier 3 product, because it includes a tree.

The POD line, which is assembled in Santa Rosa, varies greatly in cost, depending on configuration, from a couple thousand dollars for a single-family home to six figures for a large commercial project.

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Lafayette-based real estate broker Raj Chabra and economist Vimal Kumar purchased the vacant freestanding Circuit City store at 1560 Gateway Dr. in Fairfield from Circuit City Investors-Fairfield LLC, a New Hampshire-based group that has owned the building for 14 years.

The buyers purchased the 33,258-square-foot building for $2.8 million, or $84 a square foot, according to Terranomics Retail Services. Solano County assessed the property value at $6.22 million, or $187 a square foot, according to public records.

"It was a good opportunity to pick up a property well below market," said Lockehouse Retail Group's Steve Cutter, who represented the buyers. "It's a long-term hold for them."

Todd Oliver and Matt Taylor of Terranomics and Bob Tuller of NAI BT Commercial represented the seller.

The Circuit City chain of electronics stores, including locations in Santa Rosa and San Rafael shut down earlier this year. Mi Pueblo Foods of San Jose wants to transform the San Rafael location into a grocery store, but a second appeal of project approval is set for a City Council hearing Sept. 21 at 8 p.m.

Other retailers are shopping Bay Area markets for store space of this size, according to Mr. Cutter. In addition to discounters, those include Sports Authority, Sprouts as well as Smart & Final LLC's Henry's Farmers Market and Smart & Final formats.

Systemax Technology Group acquired the Circuit City name for an online store.

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Speaking of Smart & Final, the Vernon, Calif.-based warehouse grocer now wants to sell 3.8 acres it acquired at 2905 Santa Rosa Ave. in Santa Rosa four and a half years ago to build a consumer-oriented store, according to the broker who represented the company in the initial purchase and is marketing the property now.

"Santa Rosa is now considered an ancillary market, and the new ownership wants to be closer to the Bay Area and have a higher density," said Steve Cutter of Lockehouse Retail Group in Burlingame.

The asking price is $25 a square foot, or $4.18 million.

The retailer was acquired by Apollo Management in May 2007. Ownership changes had more to do with the decision to sell, rather than entitlement issues, according to Mr. Cutter.

Smart & Final already has a Smart Foodservice Cash & Carry store in the city. The company had challenges obtaining an alcoholic beverage license for the new location for a couple of years amid jurisdictional changes within city government, according to public documents.

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Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.