Arts and crafts giant Hobby Lobby has submitted plans to open a store in the former Toys R Us building in southeast Santa Maria.
The company, which has over 850 stores, is the largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer in the world.
Santa Maria Community Development Director Chuen Ng said the company submitted plans for tenant improvements that are being reviewed by the city.
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“Once we review the plans — that's probably a couple months — then they can get a permit,” Ng said, adding the time frame was a rough estimate.
Hobby Lobby’s plans would not require Planning Commission review.
“It’s considered a like-for-like use,” Ng said, since the building would continue to be used for retail purposes.
The Toys R Us building, located 1411 S. Bradley Road, has been vacant since the company closed all of its U.S. stores last June.
Hobby Lobby was at the center of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision involving religious beliefs, contraceptives and Obamacare.
The case — Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. — was over whether corporations with religious objections were required to cover certain contraceptives for female employees under the Affordable Care Act.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in 2014 that closely held companies with sincerely held religious objections did not have to provide certain forms of contraception if there were less restrictive ways of furthering the law’s interest.
Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @razisyed
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