The proposed store to fill the old Mervyns building in Santa Maria was voted down by the City Council Tuesday night.
The Community Development Department was caught off guard by the council's decision. In fact, the paperwork needed for the rejection wasn't even prepared.
Mayor Alice Patino and council members Bob Orach and Willie Green all voted against filling the vacant Mervyns building with a Fallas store.
They cited the city's downtown-specific plan stating Fallas is not a high-end retailer. Also a recent visit to a Fallas in Bakersfield turned them off the idea.
Patino said in an interview Monday that she does not see people driving from 30 minutes away to shop at this type of store.
This building has sat empty for the last five years.
The Community Development Department projected the store would bring in roughly $50,000 a year in sales tax alone and possibly double that in the following years.
“This is the first project that came along that staff was supporting that we felt had those elements. It certainly wasn’t the high-end retail that everybody was hoping for but it still filled the niche and we felt it was going to be good for the downtown to help revitalize things,” said Community Development Director Larry Appel.
A spokesman for Fallas said the store in Santa Maria would be somewhat of a flagship store as required by the conditions set forth in the proposal by city staff, and it would not be an eyesore for the community.
In response to the Bakersfield store he said some tires were abandoned at the store and they were cleaned up in a timely manner.
Tuesday night's decision is not final yet. Another vote will take place on Aug. 6 and if one council member changes their vote from no to yes, the store could still open.