Owners in square fret about proposal

For 23 years, Sue Jower ran a successful salon in the Marlin Cove shopping center, catering to customers so devoted to her that they came all the way from Napa Valley for her beautifying magic.

Then, in 1999, when the shopping center was torn down and redeveloped, she moved to the Charter Square Shopping Center, working hard to retain the clientele she’d built for more than two decades.

So when she heard recently that the owners of Charter Square were thinking of razing the entire 60,000-square-foot shopping center and building a brand-new, differently configured 60,000-square-foot shopping center, she started to worry.

Jower is one of more than a dozen business owners from the shopping center who plan to attend a Foster City Planning Commission meeting tonight in which the shopping center’s managers, Westlake Development Partners, will present their ideas for the new center.

Charter Square, located on Shell Boulevard near Beach Park Boulevard, was built in 1974, according to Assistant Planner Kohar Shirikan. It’s currently home to a U.S. Bank, a preschool, Tokie’s Japanese Restaurant and several other small businesses.

On Monday, those tenants met for the first time to create a merchant’s association and start thinking about the possibility of a move, said Jason McComb, office manager for the United Studios of Self Defense, located toward the rear of the shopping center.

He said most businesses are waiting to hear what the owners have to say in tonight’s meeting, but many are already worried about losing businesses that they’ve devoted themselves to for years.

“When you spend 20 years of your life building a business that you expect will be a legacy to your family, and then that’s threatened, that’s not a fun feeling,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, many would like to see some changes at the center, which has had declining numbers of tenants — which translates to declining foot traffic and less business.

“To make it in this mall, which is not robust in its marketing as other malls are, means that the businesses here have to be really, really good,” he said.

Jower said she’d like to see a remodel — not a full redevelopment — coupled with better marketing.

That plan wouldalso suit Pam Warren, owner of Piccadilly Catering, who currently serves Sunday brunch but would like to open for lunches, if there was enough foot traffic.

“When I was a kid there was so much here — restaurants, an ice cream place, a T-shirt store, the KFC was here forever — the places were filled,” she said. “I think people are for bringing that back. The bad thing is tearing the whole place down.”

kworth@examiner.com

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