WALNUT CREEK -- By 2016, the east side of the city is expected to see a grocery store boom, with a Whole Foods-anchored development approved Thursday set to be built across the street from a new Safeway-anchored center given the green light last month.

Plans for the renovated Encina Grande Center, which will host a Whole Foods Market and a Walgreens pharmacy on the southwest corner of Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove roads, were approved unanimously by the Walnut Creek Planning Commission on Thursday.

"What Whole Foods allows us to do is ... create a gathering spot for the community," said Pete Knoedler with Regency Centers, which owns Encina Grande. "Whole Foods is going to have a larger prepared-food section and a tap room and an outdoor eating area."

The entire 102,333-square-foot center, built in 1966, will be renovated with new facades and parking circulation. The Walgreens, complete with a new drive-up pharmacy window, will move to the east side of the development, and the Whole Foods will go where Safeway currently operates. Safeway is building a new shopping center, The Orchards, directly across the street on 25 acres. That will be anchored by a much larger Safeway store than the one now in Encina Grande.

Regency Centers' plans will add about 4,000 more square feet of retail space on the 10-acre corner parcel. The existing Safeway building will be demolished to make way for the 37,500-square-foot Whole Foods Market.


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There was some discussion among commissioners about the traffic created on Oak Grove Road by the Walgreens drive-thru window, but ultimately that didn't hang up the project.

"Frankly, I think we will see a busier shopping center, but the issues on access to and from Oak Grove Road have been there for a long time," said commission chairman Bob Pickett. "They are not going to change dramatically."

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617.