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Milk Pail owner: No solution in sight


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The owner of The Milk Pail Market, a Mountain View mainstay, continues his standoff with developer Merlone Geier Partners over sale of the property.

The long-term future of The Milk Pail Market in Mountain View remains uncertain, despite a recent overture by its next-door neighbor, according to the market’s owner.

Steve Rasmussen told the Town Crier that his market at 2585 California St. continues to face a questionable future because of parking, or a lack thereof in the coming years. The nearly 40-year-old market has just five spaces onsite and depends on a pair of shared-parking agreements with neighboring tenants to augment its supply for customers. Those lots, however, will eventually disappear when developer Merlone Geier Partners begins work on the second phase of The Village at San Antonio Center project.

The Mountain View City Council reviewed the Phase 2 project last week, a session that revealed an offer from the developer to house Rasmussen’s market in a new building in the Phase 2 footprint on Pacchetti Way. Rasmussen, however, said he’s owned the market land “free and clear” for 25 or more years, allowing him to keep prices low for his customers.

“I had some misgivings about it,” said Rasmussen, who previously met with the developer to discuss alternate locations for the market, but to no avail. “It’s impossible for The Milk Pail to remain The Milk Pail, given the high (lease) rate that was offered.”

Merlone Geier’s second-phase mixed-use project calls in part for the construction of a 70,000-square-foot movie theater, 121,000 square feet of commercial space, a 150,000-square-foot hotel and more than 360,000 square feet of office space on a four-parcel, 9.9-acre site fronting San Antonio Road and California Street.

Rasmussen, who didn’t provide specifics about the offer, said he last communicated with Merlone Geier in August and is still “awaiting a response.”

Merlone Geier partner Mike Grehl said, “We continue to be hopeful the Milk Pail will be part of the project.”

Rasmussen said he believes there’s still time to work out a solution, noting that his parking agreements expire in approximately two years.

“So I have two years, I guess, to get my house in order,” he said.

Rasmussen added that he knew that his “world was going to be changing” when the developer originally purchased the old San Antonio Shopping Center site and had its Phase 1 plan – which includes a new Safeway store and 330 apartment units – approved by the council in June 2011.

Since that time, Rasmussen added, he and Merlone Geier met several times to discuss alternate locations for the market – including the former Dittmer’s Gourmet Meats & Wurst-Haus Inc. location at 400 San Antonio Road. He characterized the offers as “not sufficient,” adding that even if he accepted the offer for a new building on the Phase 2 site, no viable temporary locations exist for the market during construction.

“I have made many, many efforts to seek alternative locations,” he said, calling the cost of relocating the market “extraordinary.” “I’ve got two children in college, I’ve got 40 families that the Milk Pail supports because we offer our employees health care and a profit-sharing plan. There’s a whole community I feel responsible for.”

In the meantime, Rasmussen said he “truly appreciates” the support he’s received from customers and the Mountain View City Council, adding that he’ll continue to work toward a solution that has the market’s long-term interests in mind.

“I’m hoping that the Milk Pail finds a way to successfully survive this change that is upon us,” he said, “whether it’s surviving where we are or elsewhere in Mountain View.”

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