By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It looks as if Windsor is finally going to get a supermarket on the west side of town.
Oliver’s Market is planning to open a store near Windsor’s Town Green as part of a large commercial-residential project approved Wednesday by the Town Council.
“We have a letter of intent with Oliver’s Market to be the anchor for the grocery store. It’s fantastic,” said Jeff Civian, the project civil engineer for Bell Village, one of the biggest developments proposed in Windsor for years.
A new grocery store next to Windsor’s Town Green has been something town officials have sought for awhile, as a convenience for nearby residents and to help bring more business to the Town Green Village shops.
“There’s excitement you are in town. You will see us as your customers,” Mayor Debora Fudge told Oliver’s officials before the council unanimously approved Bell Village.
There are two supermarkets — Safeway and Raley’s — on the other side of the freeway, but no comparably-sized grocery stores in Windsor west of Highway 101.
“I think Windsor needs some choices. The choices here are pretty limited,” Oliver’s General Manager Tom Scott said after the meeting. “We think it’s an exciting project. We think we can do a good job for the town.”
The Sonoma County-based Oliver’s has two stores in Santa Rosa and one in Cotati and touts its natural, conventional and gourmet products, with an emphasis on buying from local companies.
While council members expressed excitement over Oliver’s, they shared qualms with planning commissioners about the orientation of the proposed store and other buildings and how they fit into the pedestrian-oriented downtown.
“I feel the project is too auto-oriented,” Fudge said, adding she would have preferred the store be more market-like and open to the street.
But she and council members said the positives outweighed their misgivings. Those included bringing 1,100 more residents downtown, creating two traffic roundabouts on Old Redwood Highway, reverse-angle parking and bike lanes.
The store is proposed to be 25,000 square feet, roughly the size of the Oliver’s Market on Montecito Avenue in Santa Rosa.
It will require final review from the Planning Commission and design approval, but Civian said the expectation is that Oliver’s could be open in the latter half of 2013.
Bell Village and the new market are to be located on 25 acres that once comprised the old Windsorland trailer and mobile home park.
The site is located between Highway 101 and Old Redwood Highway, just east of the Town Green.
The mixed-use project includes 387 rental apartments and townhomes to be built in phases, beginning with 70 residential units. Forty percent of the units will be for low- and very-low income tenants, allowing the developers to take advantage of tax-benefit financing for the affordable housing portion.
The $80 million to $100 million project is proposed by OSL Management LLC, an affiliate of Oakmont Senior Living, headed by developer Bill Gallaher.
The firm is known for projects in Oakmont and other retirement communities such as Varenna and Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa.
“We have a track record. We’ve built a number of projects in the Western United States. We are confident we can build it and get financing,” Civian said in an interview prior to the council meeting.
There would be 80,000 square feet of commercial space including the supermarket and a pharmacy. Oakmont Senior Living and its affiliates also plan to relocate their offices to Bell Village.
Bell Village has been in the works for almost three years. It was the subject of five Planning Commission meetings this year as well as conceptual previews by the Town Council.
Councilwoman Robin Goble said it has been an arduous process, but “it’s a really, really solid project for the town.”