San Carlos casts net for new businesses

The first step in increasing the city’s sales-tax revenues will be to pick which businesses — from Abercrombie & Fitch to Zumiez — to lure into town, and which ones residents want most.

Locals are clamoring for a new grocery store, more bookstores and a little nightlife, including a brewpub or similar eatery at the San Carlos train station. With a number of commercial sites potentially available, from Wheeler Plaza to the corner of Holly Street and Industrial Road, the city’s economic leaders are putting on their thinking caps to determine what companies they’d like to see move in.

The Economic Development Advisory Committee will take its first crack at the topic today, poring over lists of potential moneymakers and comparing them to public surveys conducted earlier this year. While Target is a healthy moneymaker, at $200 to $300 per square foot, almost 70 percent of locals said they didn’t want the discount retailer in San Carlos.

“Our goal is increasing the tax base, period,” EDAC member Scot Marsters said. “We want to do it in away that keeps the flavor of San Carlos — I don’t think we want to compromise our future just to meet a goal.”

San Carlos has struggled to stay on top of a structural deficit of roughly $2 million per year. Sales taxes are the city’s second-biggest source of city revenues, behind property taxes.

The commission will also pore over lists of potential retailers and restaurants compiled by consultants with the Rosenow Spevacek Group to determine whether San Carlos is more of a Talbot’s or Coldwater Creek town, and whether locals are more likely to flock to Aveda or L’Occitane.

“The market is going to dictate it mostly, but when you have a large list of who we might consider, it makes sense for us to focus on who we really want to consider [bringing in],” said Mark Sawicki, San Carlos’ new economic development director.

As it moves forward, the city must continue the business-friendly style that brought the San Carlos Marketplace to Industrial Road so quickly, said Chamber of Commerce President Sheryl Pomerenk.

That center, on the former Breuner’s site next to Best Buy, will open its first two stores — TJ Maxx and Home Goods — this week. PetSmart, the anchor, opens Nov. 12, Sawicki said.

The San Carlos Economic Development Advisory Commission meets today at 4 p.m. at City Hall, 600 Elm St.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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