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Pacific Market on Sunday shut its Rohnert Park grocery store.

"That location's sales have, unfortunately, been a disappointment to us for the last couple years," said Ken Silveira, co-owner and president of the Sebastopol-based company. "It didn't meet the projections we had when we opened it four years ago."

Only about 10 of the store's 50 employees will be retained, Silveria said.

"That's the most unfortunate part," Silveira said Sunday. "It's a very sad day for our company."

He declined to say when the company decided to shut the store on Golf Course Drive. The company also has a Pacific Market in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

The recession played a part in the store's difficulty, Silveira said. The company had planned on more people living in the area, but stalled residential developments that would have added up to 1,000 homes in north Rohnert Park stalled as the real estate market collapsed.

Pacific Market announced the closure of the 33,000-square-foot store with a note taped to the front door Sunday morning.

A steady stream of rebuffed customers reacted to the note with dismay.

"Holy smokes," said a woman dressed in her Sunday finery, who was making a pit stop on her way home from church.

A short while later, as a new group of would-be customers arrived, one man proclaimed, "Oh, my God."

A woman who had walked up behind him said, "It was open yesterday. No one even said anything."

Inside the store, workers could be seen clearing shelves and loading items into boxes and carts.

One of those rebuffed customers was Michael Williams, who lives with his wife and family a few blocks away.

"It's pretty intense," he said. "It's going to be a big nuisance."

Like others, Williams' family frequented the store to pick up last-minute snacks and cooking supplies.

The locally owned grocery store had been part of a heated debate about whether to allow Wal-Mart to expand its Rohnert Park store into a Supercenter, which in its nearly 200,000-square-foot space would be a new section for groceries.

An environmental impact report prepared for the Wal-Mart project said the nearby Pacific Market could be forced to close as a result of the Wal-Mart expansion drawing away customers.

The Rohnert Park City Council approved the Supercenter in July, but expansion opponents sued to stop the project in September.

"That decision is made. It's over and done with," Silveira said.

He declined to comment on what effect the City Council's approval of the Wal-Mart expansion had on his company's decision to close its store. Instead, he referred to an economic report commissioned by his company that forecast Wal-Mart's expansion would take millions of dollars in revenue from nearby stores, such as Pacific Market.

The report, conducted by Robert Eyler, chairman of the Economics Department and director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University, found that the expansion would cost 105 to 211 local jobs as the Wal-Mart affected other stores.

"Because Pacific Market is the only &‘anchor' tenant in the Mountain Shadows Plaza, it is likely that other shops in the plaza will either fail or relocate to another center," Eyler wrote in an opinion column last year in The Press Democrat.

The Mountain Shadows Plaza already has eight vacant store fronts, making Pacific Market the ninth to close.

"We're going to lose a lot of traffic," said Lilly Merino, 23, an assistant manager at Straw Hat Pizza in the shopping center. "It was totally unexpected."

Jake Mackenzie, vice mayor of Rohnert Park, said the threat of Wal-Mart likely played a part in the store's closure, in addition to competition from the city's Target store, which began selling groceries last year.

"It's going to leave a huge hole in the north end of Rohnert Park," said Mackenzie, the lone council member to vote against the Wal-Mart expansion. "We're going to have to drive quite a bit more now."

You can reach Staff Writer Nathan Halverson at 703-1577 or nathan.halverson@pressdemocrat.com.