With very few exceptions, the key to retail development in the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere is rehabilitation and expansion of existing facilities.
Since few developable parcels of land remain--with those that remain priced outrageously--developers are being forced to rehabilitate their existing centers rather than build from scratch, according to Michael Lushing, retail specialist at the Sherman Oaks office of Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokerage.
Some new centers are being developed in outlying communities such as Camarillo in Ventura County, but even relatively new, still-growing communities like Canyon Country are seeing the rehab phenomenon.
Canyon Center, built 25 years ago as the first shopping center in the Santa Clarita Valley, is being renovated at a cost of $3 million. Five new buildings are being constructed on the 15-acre site on the north side of Soledad Canyon Road between Whites Canyon and Camp Plenty roads, according to Ira Forest of Forest & Co., the Sherman Oaks-based developers.
Architect for the project is Barasch Architects & Associates, Pasadena and Thousand Oaks, with Eriksson, Peters, Thoms & Associates, Pasadena, the landscape architect.
The renovation will add 50,000 square feet, giving the center a total gross leasing area of 250,000 square feet when the project is completed next month, Forest said.
Tenants in Canyon Center, many of whom are now remodeling their own spaces, include Safeway, Builders Emporium, Security Pacific National Bank, McMahan Furniture, Howard & Phil's western wear and several fast-food outlets.
Lushing said that in addition to the proliferation of corner strip centers being built as quickly as developers can get the existing service stations out of their leases, trends include the rehabilitation of neighborhood shopping centers. These are typically anchored by a supermarket and a discount drug outlet, with several smaller stores.
A good example is Saticoy Plaza at the southeast corner of Saticoy Street and Louise Avenue in Van Nuys. This underutilized 8 1/2-acre parcel is being rebuilt at a cost of $10 million by Field/La Cagnina Associates, with the construction of a new 45,000-square-foot Ralph's supermarket, a 17,640-square-foot Thrifty Drug & Discount Store.
A parcel this size in the middle of a "sea of houses" is a developer's dream, according to Victor S. La Cagnina, partner in the project with Lawrence N. Field of Beverly Hills. Currently, the stores front close to Saticoy Street, with an enormous parking area behind them wasted, he said. The center draws customers from throughout West Van Nuys, as well as parts of eastern Reseda and the southern part of Northridge, La Cagnina said. "It's a great location, and we're going to provide this neighborhood with a first-class center," he added.
The new plan, by Herbert Nadel, AIA & Partners, Santa Monica, laces the stores close to the rear property line, with improved parking and a total of 102,000 square feet of space. Trak Auto will occupy 6,200 square feet of space, with the other stores occupying about 33,000 square feet. Ralph's will own its and and build its store.
"We're going to keep the Ralph's and Thrifty open during most of the construction, but the other vacant stores are being demolished," La Cagnina said. "We're looking for a grand opening next May or June."
A smaller center using an L-shaped layout will be Post Plaza, under construction near the corner of Ponderosa Drive and Mobil Avenue in downtown Camarillo. Occupying about two acres, the $1.5-million, 26,000-square-foot project is being developed by James S. Lee Inc. and was designed by McClellan Cruz Gaylord & Associates, Pasadena.
In keeping Camarillo's architectural guidelines, the center has a Spanish theme, with a colonnade accented by carriage lamps. To provide access from Ponderosa Drive, a flood control channel will be covered with concrete and landscaped at the developer's expense, with part of the covered channel being used for parking.
Rehabilitation is a factor in the larger shopping malls, including Canoga Park's Topanga Plaza, where Nordstrom was added as a new anchor, and the entire center was refurbished, Lushing said.
Glendale Galleria, one of the most successful downtown shopping malls in the nation, also underwent a major expansion two years ago with the completion of Glendale Galleria II, anchored by Nordstrom and Mervyn's department stores and connected to the original galleria by a bridge over Central Avenue.
Fallbrook Square has been purchased by General Growth Cos., Des Moines, Iowa, renamed Fallbrook Mall and is being enclosed, renovated and expanded. Located along the west side of Fallbrook Avenue between Victory Boulevard and Vanowen Street in Canoga Park, the 21-year-old, 80-acre center has existing Penney and Sear's stores that will be supplemented by Mervyn's and Target department stores and 250,000 square feet of new mall stores.
Lushing said that 90 new tenants are signed, with an additional 110 being negotiated. Unlike other centers that are going after the upscale consumer, the mall's new owners are aiming squarely at price-conscious consumers, Lushing said.
"Even though many of the stores will not be ready, the mall is scheduled to open this October, with the official grand opening taking place next spring," he said.
Fontana, in keeping with its policy of entering into equity and cash-flow partnerships with developers, has signed a development agreement with University Developers, Tulsa, Okla., to build a 350,000-square-foot enclosed mall shopping center. The city's redevelopment agency will acquire the site at the intersection of Sierra Avenue and Interstate 10 adjacent to Valley Boulevard.