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We're Taking a Vote on Guitar Center Question

We received such a wide range of suggestions for what to do with the former Guitar Center that we're trying a poll to see if clusters of consensus emerge. We hope you'll cast a vote.

Editor's note, May 22, 2:45 p.m.: A technical glitch blocked the poll from being attached to this article when it was first published. It's now attached below. We apologize to our readers.

Last week we asked our readers what they'd building at 10300 San Pablo Ave., and we have received so many suggestions of such variety that we're not sure how to interpret them.

Perhaps the most popular choice in comments on the article and on our Facebook page was a gym or fitness center of some type. A number of people liked the idea of a live-music venue, perhaps with a space for art and a cafe. Others wanted to see a grocery, while several other retail possibilities – notably a Fry's Electronics – were proposed.

So we thought it might help to consolidate the suggestions into general categories and pose the question again in the form of a reader poll, in hopes of determining whether areas of consensus might emerge. We hope that those readers who offered suggestions in the first round will cast their votes in the poll below, and we hope additional readers add their feedback too. And we welcome further comments too.

Ruth Robinson May 22, 2012 at 03:22 PM
where is the poll posted? No link provided? Did I miss it?
Louisa Hufstader May 22, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I have some questions, too: Why and when did GC close? Did they move? Did Down Home Music take over?!
Heidi Rand May 22, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Guitar Center moved to Emeryville. from: http://stores.guitarcenter.com/Emeryville "This year in February we moved into a beautiful new location in the thriving city of Emeryville right at the eastern foot of the Bay Bridge."
sewellyn kaplan May 22, 2012 at 04:06 PM
would love to offer my opinion .. but where? Poll is missing!
best bookkeeper May 22, 2012 at 04:50 PM
me too, can't find it. on the other hand, what citizens want doesn't count really--it's what the owner will accept and the renter will pay.
Mike C May 22, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Great question Louisa. While we dream about what we'd like to see in this space, it's important that we listen to what Guitar Center is telling us and learn from it. "It's just an old building in an old area," Zammuto said. "There's no traffic flow here. People only come down here if they're specifically going to Guitar Center. As opposed to in Emeryville where it's a retail environment. We've been trying to do this for five years or more." http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:L-nzuG7e-qIJ:www.contracostatimes.com/ci_19728406 Kind of a downer assessment, telling us not to expect a business that depends on heavy retail traffic. But it also suggests that a fitness center might be a really good fit for this spot. Fitness centers don't need fancy buildings, and they don't depend on retail traffic. They get their customers through direct mail. Hopefully the commercial broker who represents this propety is out there talking to the various fitness center operators.
Ryan L. May 22, 2012 at 08:40 PM
A number of people liked the idea of a poll for what they'd like to see at the empty Guitar Center however no poll was actually provided. Many were left to wonder how to participate so I thought it might help to consolidate the poll location suggestions and pose the question in the form of a reader poll, in hopes of determining how to vote in the initial reader poll. I hope that those readers who asked where the first poll was will cast their votes in the poll below, and I hope additional readers add their feedback too.
Charles Burress (Editor) May 22, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Apologies to our readers. A technical glitch prevented the poll from appearing with the article this morning. It's there now.
Vickie May 22, 2012 at 11:06 PM
What about an ice cream parlor like Fentons. Always popular. Weather independent; at least in Oakland it is always busy!!. Destination that does not rely on anything around it. Has a parking lot and street parking.
Liz Ozselcuk May 23, 2012 at 12:17 PM
A grocery store, yes, but how about a Berkeley Bowl North?
Kathy A. May 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
the el cerrito natural grocery is nearby, and with the addition of its annex, it is comparable to berkeley bowl. giovanni's produce and grocery [at liberty and potrero] is another nearby neighborhood market with a nice selection and an emphasis on produce.
Kathy A. May 23, 2012 at 04:14 PM
i voted for a gym, because i think people would use it; there aren't really nearby alternatives. but i also like the idea of a performance space for music. the lack of windows would be a feature, not a bug, for those kinds of venues.
Eric Bordax May 25, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Oooh what if we put the new Portola Middle School there?
TT June 03, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Dear People: I'm a little bored of big box chain stores. Chipotle or Fry's electronics, YAWN. What about something LOCAL and cool. Whatever it is, local.
TT June 03, 2012 at 07:15 PM
What about as a new venue for the El Cerrito Public Library? Which is looking for a better site? Whatever it is you should want to WALK there, as well as drive, or better yet instead of drive. Dear El Cerrito Development people, please think outside the big box box.
Susan June 13, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Please, no more grocery stores. We have El Cerrito Natural Grocery, Williams Natural Foods, Giovanni's. That neighborhood has enough! A fitness center would be fabulous.
Craig Westbrooke July 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I must agree, we lived in EC for 10 years and always noticed how there is nothing really to walk to on San Pablo Avenue. Just a lot of auto lots (and lots of empty buildings now too) The Avenue needs a type of business that will bring people to the area. Now its just full of the wrong type of businesses - no real reason to stop and hang around.
CancerFighter2012 November 22, 2012 at 12:53 AM
I'd like it to be considered for the new El Cerrito Library but the lack of windows is an issue for a library. Most new or remodeled libraries in our region are filled with natural light ...meaning windows. I also think El Cerrito could use a good sit-down ice cream parlor, like Fentons, with great sundaes from house made ice cream and offer a few sandwiches but I'm afraid that space is too big for that type of venture.
Craig Westbrooke November 22, 2012 at 01:10 AM
SP Avenue desperately needs stores that people want to go to, stores that stay open in the evening, somewhere that families can go. A parlor would be great..you could go there after a movie at the Cerrito. Besides the restaurants, the street pretty much shuts down at night in terms of a destination.
Charles Burress (Editor) November 22, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I wonder if windows could be cut into the walls of the building? Maybe any architects or structural engineers among our readers could address that possibility. As for an ice-cream parlor, did you know that the resurrected Cerrito Theater, which celebrates its 75th anniversary next month, once had an ice cream parlor in the same building?
Paul D November 22, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Charles, it used to be a Safeway store and the windows have been covered up over the years. I'm sure the framing is still there.
Charles Burress (Editor) November 22, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Paul, thanks. That's what I guessed from looking at the exterior outlines on the walls but wasn't sure.

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