May 20, 2013 6:31 PM by April Hansen, KSBY
The old Mervyn's department store building in Santa Maria could have a new identity, but the City Council has to decide if the proposed tenant is the right choice for downtown.
Fallas Discount Stores wants to move into the vacant building in Town Center West, but first needs city approval.
Some business owners near the empty store and some top city officials say a discount store may not be the right choice.
The former Mervyn's building is 86,000 square feet of empty space and it's been that way for years.
"It's been a little depressing seeing the empty building there for so long," said Angie Schaparro, owner of Anthony's Jewelers.
She says an empty building is just bad for business.
"The idea of another inexpensive store coming in there does not thrill me, but neither does that fact that the store has been empty for so long. So what do you do," said Schaparro.
Fallas has more than 100 discount stores in California and wants to add Santa Maria to its list.
But not everyone near the mall thinks it would be a good fit.
"A discount store isn't necessarily the best thing for us, but having anything in that location at this point would be helpful," said Skip Gibson, owner of Shooters Bar and Grill.
The city's Planning Commission voted to recommend Fallas to the City Council last month.
We spoke with all five members of the council and they are split on whether to approve Fallas for the mall location.
"I was very excited," said councilmember Jack Boysen.
Councilmember Boysen says he likes the idea that a company is interested in this space
"Obviously, a store that's filled is better than a store that's empty," said councilmember Boysen.
But some shop owners say the space needs to be filled, but filled right.
"It may be a school or an office building. Anything that would fill that empty space," said Schaparro.
Mayor Alice Patino is one of the most vocal opponents of opening a Fallas Discount Store at the mall.
The City Council was supposed to consider the Fallas proposal at its meeting on Tuesday, but decided to wait until June 18th.
Councilmember Boysen says the council will also consider placing a moratorium on discount stores in the city.
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