By Devin Fehely

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Customers in the South Bay say they’re frustrated and confused after the Safeway location that serves as the only major chain grocery store in downtown San Jose prepares to shut down next month.

“It will be a burden to the people who live downtown in San Jose and to the people who don’t have cars and walk here,” said customer Lisa Ambriz.

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Judith Myers, another South Bay customer, echoed that concern.

“I know where to go for everything. I’m really shocked,” said Myers, who works downtown and makes a daily trip to Safeway.

After weeks of speculation, Safeway announced that it would be shuttering its downtown location June 15. City leaders say the sale of the neighboring parking garage and the loss of free, validated parking for customers weighed heavily in the grocery store chain’s decision.

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“This is really the key to making sure a city stays alive,” said City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco.

Carrasco says the city has been waging a decades-long and largely losing battle to bring retail business downtown. The decision to close Safeway is but the latest casualty, according to Carrasco.

“We need to have grocery stores. We need to have boutiques. We need to have clothing stores. We need to have convenience stores. We need to have a wide range of opportunities whether it’s in the core of San Jose or the Eastside of San Jose in order to have a vibrant economy,” Carrasco said.

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City leaders say they need a plan to attract business, shops and stores into the downtown core. And they believe there should be at least one person on the city’s staff whose sole focus and job is attracting and retaining those businesses.