CERRITOS — City officials have taken the final step to transform a long-vacant lot near the intersection of Pioneer Boulevard and South Street into a $10-million shopping center whose prime tenant will be a discount sporting goods store.
The City Council last week unanimously approved a long-term lease agreement with a Dallas-based development company that plans to break ground on the 8.5-acre site next spring.
The center's major tenant will be Sportmart, a Chicago-based sporting goods and apparel chain with six other stores in Southern California. Twenty to 30 clothing shops, restaurants and service stores are planned for the center. In size and character, the development will be similar to the Cerritos South shopping center, which includes a Toys R Us store.
The former site of S & J Chevrolet, the land was acquired by the city Redevelopment Agency in 1980 for $1.5 million. In an arrangement expected to bring Cerritos more than $9 million in rental fees in the next two decades, the city will continue to own the land and lease it to the developer, Lincoln Property Co.
The parcel, which sits back from the southeast corner of Pioneer Boulevard and South Street, is bounded diagonally on the east by railroad tracks and on the south by a residential neighborhood.
Protection for City
The city is assuming a similar landlord role at Towne Center, the 125 acres it is developing across from the Civic Center. By leasing the land--rather than selling it, as the city did with other redevelopment projects such as the auto mall--officials say they are protecting Cerritos against becoming overdependent on sales tax income from local businesses.
The 99-year lease for the South Street shopping center calls for Lincoln to construct the shops and for the city to own them after the lease ends. Besides paying annual rent to use the land, Lincoln will give the city part of its profits from renting the shops to businesses.
The S & J tract originally included another half-acre, which was used for the new Pioneer Boulevard fire station. Plans call for the exterior of the 32,000-square-foot Sportmart to be similar to the Early American brick design of the fire station. Under Lincoln's construction schedule, the store will open in a year.
Michelle Ogle, the city's communications officer, said the Redevelopment Agency bought the South Street parcel so that the Chevrolet dealership could relocate to the auto mall. "They had no intention to develop it right off the bat," she said.
Two years ago, the agency chose Lincoln Property to develop the entire tract with a medium-sized shopping center, and the firm has spent several months negotiating with Sportmart.
The site has been largely unused since S & J left, but for the past year auto dealers have leased portions of it to store cars.