More than 300 people showed up to hear Safeway representatives talk about the plan for a revamped two-story grocery store that would double the current 31,000 square feet, a nine-pump gas station and new shops in the Aptos Rancho del Mar Shopping Center.
However many in the audience said they chose to live in Aptos because it wasn't modern and cookie cutter sterile. They said they feared the new center would bring in chain stores and would look like the newest Santa Cruz Safeway on Mission Street.
At times the meeting, which was held in the empty store that used to house the video rental store Video USA, grew as cantankerous and rude as an Occupy Santa Cruz session at City Hall. The the biggest concerns included the loss of the local, family-owned businesses that now populate the outdoor plaza. Others worried about more traffic along Soquel Drive, as it tails out at its southern-most point.
The Safeway representatives said that the twin movie theater would be gone, but they weren't sure about much else.
Aptos has other plans for a new downtown that had people worried about the construction and chaos of two new projects. The County Board of Supervisors will have final approval over both plans.
The Safeway at Rancho del Mar was built in 1960 and with the one on Morrissey, is one of two older Safeways in the area. The stores at 41st Avenue and Mission Street have been remodeled.
Safeway bought the entire shopping center several months ago and has offered some tenants leases of six months to a year and others are on month to month.
The project could take as long as three years to complete, once it is approved.
Many store owners feared that the two years or more they might have to wait during construction would put them out of business.
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