Once full of people and stores, Town & Country Village now has a 20 percent vacancy rate and far fewer visitors than before COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, stores such as Mayfield Bakery, Village Cheese House, and GNC have all shut down.
In light of this, Ellis Partners, the owners of the Town & Country property, proposed allowing medical offices in the vacant spots in order to increase foot traffic at the open-air mall, a proposal Palo Alto Rugs and Art Gallery employee Hamed Bahroni said will help increase business.
“I think that while having medical offices can cramp the style of Town and Country, as long as you have more traffic and the medical offices can help others, I think it will work,” Bahroni said.
City Council member Greg Tanaka also supports the proposal. Tanaka said COVID-19 has hit retailers hard, and the idea of medical offices near shops would give customers a better experience.
“My daughter has braces, so maybe when I take her to get her braces checked out, I can go out to get a smoothie, or I could go and look at the bookstore while I wait for her,” Tanaka said, “The version right now, her orthodontist is on El Camino, so when I go there I just sit in the waiting room.”
However, enough council members, including ASB Director Greer Stone opposed Ellis Partners’ plan. Stone said that the main reason Town & Country is suffering is COVID-19. Once more people are vaccinated, the business will resume as usual, he said, so having medical offices is not necessary. The plan has been sent back to the planning commission for further review.
“I am absolutely against medical offices on the ground floor of Town and Country,” Stone said. “It harms our retail. I don’t think it’s appropriate. There are many places around the city where medical is allowed … there is Palo Alto Medical Foundation right across the street, Stanford Medical a few blocks away.”