The Poway City Council was meeting late into the night Tuesday to consider approving construction of a major shopping center, Creekside Plaza, which would form the core of an as-yet-undefined downtown.
The city's existing business district is strung out for more than 2 miles along Poway Road and other main streets without a focus. City officials endorsed the Creekside Plaza proposal initially because developers offered to create an attraction that would draw people into the Poway shopping area and form a nucleus for civic center development.
The $20-million dollar Creekside Plaza proposal includes an Albertson's supermarket, a 10-screen movie house, two popular restaurant chains and a variety of small specialty shops in its 160,000 square feet of building space. The project, proposed by ADI Properties, was approved earlier by the City Council when plans included a small department store instead of a 50,000-square-foot market.
When the developers were unable to lure a suitable department store to the off-freeway location on Poway Road and Community Road, an amendment to the center plans was required to substitute a supermarket for the department store.
Poway Chamber of Commerce directors, by a narrow margin, approved the Creekside Plaza revised plans, but many businessmen protested that the original commitment of the developers was to bring in only tenants that would not compete with established Poway businesses.
Opponents argued that the new center would drain business from other, older shopping centers that line Poway Road. Others opposed the new development because it would include a supermarket that would attract customers now trading at several other area grocery stores.
E. Rex Brown, senior vice president of ADI, countered that the Albertson's store would not compete with local merchants but would attract customers from surrounding communities and San Diego suburbs.
He estimated that the shopping center would bring in about $6 million in sales tax revenues during its first full year of operation as well as upgrade the type of retail establishments to bring in thousands of shoppers from Rancho Bernardo, Sabre Springs, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Scripps Ranch and other suburbs near Poway.
Some of the criticism leveled against the center developers arose because the city's redevelopment agency has spent about $8.5 million to acquire a dilapidated trailer court on the center site and to relocate its residents to new manufactured homes on an adjacent property to the south.
Poway City Manager Jim Bowersox said the relocation also required flood control and environmental restoration of riparian habitat along Poway Creek, which traverses the property. The redevelopment project also included building up of land on the site to protect both the center and the new 65-unit housing development to the south from floods.