The City of Elk Grove has spoken with Raley's and property owner Wong Family Investors in a last-ditch attempt to keep open—but don't count on any results. That was the word from new city economic development director Randy Starbuck Tuesday.
"They [Raley's] have made it absolutely clear that they've pretty much made the decision to close the store and are not renewing their lease," which expires March 31, Starbuck said.
"It's unfortunate but sadly, it happens," Starbuck said. "Our goal is to have as little disruption in that shopping center as possible."
Starbuck, who took office last October, also said he's loving his new gig as the city's promoter-in-chief. He and his staff plan a 'Business Walk' in March, where they'll swing by local shops to hear owners' suggestions and concerns.
It's part of a strategy to pay more attention to retention of existing businesses, Starbuck said—and perhaps head off events like the Bel Air closure in the future.
"It's important to find out these things in advance," he said. Existing businesses "have already made the commitment to be here and it's very important to keep them happy. They're also going to be the biggest marketer for your town."
Starbuck also hinted at the division of labor among his office, the , and the Elk Grove Economic Development Corporation. Chamber director Angela Perry is currently doing double duty as head of the EDC, a non-profit that was formed to lure companies to town but saw its executive director resign last year amid .
While the EDC will focus on boosting the city's profile through ads and trade show appearances, the Chamber will continue advocating for and supporting small businesses, Starbuck said. As for the city, "Our job is to get companies who want to locate or expand here through the process as quickly as possible," he said.
Starbuck mentioned healthcare, education and technology as industries ripe for development in Elk Grove.
While rumors are swirling about which new grocery chain might take over the Bel Air store's central Elk Grove location, Starbuck said he couldn't share details of his discussions with the property owner to date.
Raley's that the supermarket was "underperforming" compared with the company's other nearby stores and would be shuttered by March.
Residents , and now say they have collected close to 600 signatures on a petition urging Raley's to keep it open.