In a recent letter to the City Council, Patrick Barber, senior vice president of Ralph's Grocery Co., wrote, "Our planned supermarket at the licensed site will be 58,500 square feet and will provide, as a convenience to customers, all of the customary departments normally provided in all major supermarkets in California."
According to Barber, 800 square feet of the store will be allocated for liquor. To secure an alcohol permit, Food-4-Less had to lobby the City Council. The council granted the liquor permit even though the market will be built in an area that already has the maximum number of liquor stores allowed by law.
In the last few weeks construction crews have been ripping up the asphalt of the FedMart parking lot.
That any work is being done there is news. Development at that corner had been halted for years because of fears the water table and soil underneath the parking lot were contaminated by noxious fumes from leaky gasoline tanks of the FedMart gas station.
City officials have told the Planning Commission that testing will continue at the site through construction to make sure the vast majority of the gas has been removed from the soil.
At a council meeting in December 2000, Kris Hoffman of Calexico Crossroads LLC, the developer bankrolling construction, said his company will do more than $1.82 million in infrastructure improvements to both the project site and adjacent streets affected by the proposed mall.
Terry O'Neil, a Food-4-Less spokesman, said he has not heard whether Hoffman had yet brokered a deal with Target Stores to move into the site. There had been talk that a Target was going into the plaza along with a Food-4-Less.
O'Neil said, "Usually there is another anchor tenant such as a Target-type store."
Target or no, O'Neil said the company is excited about entering the Imperial Valley market.
In addition to the Calexico market, Food-4-Less is opening an El Centro location at Northgate Plaza, at the corner of Cruickshank Road and Highway 86. O'Neil said the company plans to open the El Centro store in November.
Both markets will employ around 100 people at startup.
The stores are set up to carry bulk goods and cases of products that are carried in warehouse stores. Customers will bag their own groceries.
Prices will be 15-20 percent lower than a conventional supermarket.
Local grocers in Calexico were concerned about a new store such as a Food-4-Less coming into town because they claimed the low prices would undercut their sales. Calexico voters rejected a measure that would have prevented "big box" stores from offering groceries.
O'Neil said Food-4-Less will jump right in when it is open and become a part of the community.
He said the format has been successful in heavily Hispanic communities in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. There are 112 Food-4-Less stores throughout California and greater Las Vegas.
>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or email@example.com