OAKLAND -- Alcoholic beverage retailer BevMo! has officially pulled out of its bid for a spot on Piedmont Avenue.
The move comes after a push by neighborhood activists to keep the store from the popular retail street.
"I had never seen an issue galvanize the neighborhood like this," said Valerie Winemiller, steering committee member of the Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League.
BevMo!'s letter to the city withdrawing its application comes after a September meeting at which local residents and merchants showed up in strength to voice opposition to BevMo!
"I think BevMo! was shocked," Winemiller said of the meeting.
BevMo!, which sells both alcoholic beverages and party foods and supplies, planned to move into the now-empty space once occupied by Blockbuster on the corner of Montell Street.
Opposition to the store was on several fronts. Residents worried that the store would bring increased traffic, including double-parked delivery trucks during business hours. Although the store has parking, there were also concerns about enough spots and whether BevMo! would affect smaller wine merchants and increase late-night loitering at a nearby bar. Locals were also concerned about the numbers of exceptions to current zoning the project required.
According to Winemiller, the Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League and the Piedmont Avenue Merchants Association received more than 3,000 signatures on petitions and support from 77 business on the street.
"People said, 'This just isn't what we want on Piedmont Avenue,'" Winemiller said.
At the hearing on Sept. 19, the planning commission, after hearing the dissent, voted to deny the application 4-0, with three members absent. But planning staff had not prepared documents for denial, so a final vote was postponed to Nov. 7.
On Oct. 29, BevMo! requested that the agenda item be removed from the Nov. 9 meeting. The planning department received a letter from BevMo! on Dec. 13 withdrawing its application for planning entitlements.
This was confirmed by Greg Endom, BevMo! vice president for real estate and construction.
"We just elected not to proceed with that application," Endom said.