Another Convenience Store?

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Tonight, the Alameda Planning Board is set to vote on a permit for a convenience store at 1623 Park Street (at Pacific Avenue, one block east of Lincoln Avenue).

It will be interesting to see how this vote goes.

Flyers asking for residents to request that the permit be denied were found at the 7-Eleven at Lincoln and Oak over the past weekend. The arguments on the flyer were that the area has enough convenience stores and that more crowding on Park Street isn’t desirable.

While we don’t know exactly what the convenience store would look like, it is true that Park Street needs more business. But any business? Maybe not.

Generally speaking, Alamedans wants businesses that they are comfortable frequenting and proud to have in their neighborhood. And as is the case in many areas of town, convenience stores fulfill a very specific need and aren’t the pride or the most desirable aspect of the neighborhood.

Park Street has a great grocery shop and market area nearby — at the Marketplace. So this shop might not be very likely to stock lots of fruits and vegetables, though the market at Park and Lincoln does sell a bit of fresh produce.

More beer, wine and cigarettes? In this economy, such a store might be one of the most likely businesses that can succeed. But long term, it might not represent the grand desires of the Park Street community, which is hoping to make the area near the Park Street Bridge as interesting and inviting as possible.

With the car dealerships gone and a few used-car merchants hanging on, though, these are tough times. And without other merchants clamoring to open their doors at 1623 Park, the entrepreneur behind the proposed convenience store may get his thumbs up from the city.

Stay tuned to see how the planning board votes.


From Pop Inn to Churchward Pub in Alameda (Part I)

Churchward Pub in Alameda

A look at the new Churchward Pub, aka the Pop Inn, on Park Street in Alameda.

The Pop Inn’s turned into the Churchward Pub, at its old location, 1515 Park Street.

It’s got three new TV screens and a lot more to offer locals, regulars and visitors from all over, says owner Joe Churchward, a 1996 graduate of Alameda High School.

Joyce Holsman (pictured above) still tends bar.

“I want to do this with a more European style and as a tribute to Alameda, ” says Churchward, who adds that historic photos and other artwork will be put up soon.

The place already celebrates happy hour and also has a DJ on Saturday nights.

The whole Churchward family is involved in the effort, according to Joe, such as his sister Lisa.

“This area has so much to offer, so I wanted to make this place really nice. I’m pleased that people have responded so well so far.”

With its official grand opening on October 3 behind it, the pub owner hopes that more of the old clientele and new guests will stop by for football games on Sunday or during other times.  

The Churchwards trace the roots of the Pop Inn to 1927, when it was allowed to sell liquor for medicinal purposes. But the real origins need further research, Joe explains.

Meanwhile, he is pushing the new bar online, at MySpace and Facebook. Cheers!


From Car Dealership to Art Space

Thanks to Leonard Goode, owner of the lot that used to house the Toyota dealership at Park Street and Clement, Alamedans can now enjoy a few classic cars and associated art work created by Alameda artist Philip Hall.

“I met the property owner, and we agreed that the space would be more rentable with something in it, rather than it being empty,” said Hall. “And Alameda now looks better because of it!”

With the empty spaces down near the Park Street Bridge, Hall felt the need to bring some life to the area.

“This is good for Alameda. This area used to be so vibrant, but without the car dealerships it can feel more like a ghost town to those entering the city,” he said. “It bothered me for so long.”

Fortunately, Goode feels the same way — it’s better to have car-themed art in the space than nothing at all. And Hall’s even added lighting.

“It’s about repurposing the space and trying to encourage people to reuse space for different things, so we can make the area more viabrant,” explained Hall, who has some work online.

For his art, which he calls fine-art photography, Hall works with photos of classic cars. He adds color and other features to the images.

Part of his inspiration are classic cars, like the Oldsmobile Cutlass, now occupying the car-themed space behind his work.

Such partnerships will hopefully inspire similar cooperation around this part of Alameda and throughout the Island.


Next Wednesday’s Alameda theatre grand opening SOLD OUT

I heard it first on the playground dropping the kids off at school—you learn so much on the school yard!—but I confirmed it just now with a call to Sue Russell in the city’s development services department: tickets are all gone to next week’s gala theatre opening. So, if you, like me, have been hemming and hawing about springing for the $100 tickets (that’s $200, plus babysitting), haw and hem no longer. The choice has already been made.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable night,” said Russell, who says there’ll be close to 700 guests at the black tie event. “It’s going to be a grand, grand thing. A lot of people have worked really hard on this.”

For the rest of us, there will be a free community opening on Saturday, May 24 from 10 am to 1 pm, with balloon animals, face painting, clowns, jugglers and more! And, as best as I can figure from the web site, there will also be screenings of movies.

I, for one, am pleased to welcome on-island movies to the new restored theatre.