Apr 4, 2013 11:08 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News
The old Mervyn's department store building in Santa Maria has been empty for more than five years.
It may soon have a new owner, but that company is not getting a warm welcome from some locals.
The company is called Fallas Discount Stores and the main concern from people in the public is that it's a discount store. Some believe it doesn't fit with the vision of Santa Maria and its historic downtown center.
Nancy Stewart says bringing a discount store to downtown is a bad idea.
"I think when we have ten to fifteen discount stores already, we don't need another one right smack dab in the center of town," said Stewart.
She has been a resident and local shopper in Santa Maria for years and says there are already too many discount stores in the community and now she wants quality.
"And our downtown center is where we would like that to happen and it won't with one more discount store," said Stewart.
Fallas' low price guarantee has some city commissioners worried this store won't fit the city's vision.
"We want to be selective," said Etta Waterfield, a Santa Maria City Commissioner.
Waterfield says the city adopted the downtown specific plan back in 2008 and any new development must meet the criteria, including restoring the historic city center.
The new movie theatre is one of those projects already underway.
"You just want to fill those pockets with good quality projects," said Waterfield.
The store has been sitting empty for more than five years and the city is ready for it to be occupied.
"We think it will be a good fit for the city," said Larry Appel, Director of Community Development for the City of Santa Maria.
Several other offers have been made over the years, but Santa Maria's Director of Community Development says Fallas is a reliable buyer.
"Fallas Stores have been buying in the last few years, buying up old Mervyn's buildings and using them, so they know how to set up one of these stores," said Appel.
But some residents like Nancy Stewart are still not buying it.
"Another discount store is not going to bring in anymore people. It's not going to provide any more jobs," she said.
On April 17, the Planning Commission will give its recommendation whether to approve a permit for the discount store to the City Council.
This process is part of the city's downtown specific plan.
Fallas Discount Stores have several other locations in California including Bakersfield, Fresno and Los Angeles.
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