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Esplanade to Select Architect for Remodel


MMI Realty Services Inc., the San Francisco-based property management firm overseeing The Esplanade mall in Oxnard, is planning to select an architect this month to help revitalize the shopping complex.

The cosmetic changes, scheduled to begin next summer, will coincide with a tenant shift aimed at better serving the Ventura County community and fighting off competition from neighboring malls, factory outlets and other retail centers.

"We've got a mall that is a little outdated and needs some TLC and a breath of fresh air to sustain itself and grow into the '90s," said Carter Hemming, general manager of MMI, which oversees Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, the Harden Ranch Plaza in Salinas and other shopping centers.

"There is an existing customer in Ventura County who is not being served," he said.

When MMI took over the 685,000-square-foot Oxnard mall last July, the occupancy rate was about 85%, Hemming said.

It currently stands at about 95%, with most of the new tenants being regional and local businesses.

MMI's goal, he said, is to bring to The Esplanade more localized businesses to better serve the specific needs of local shoppers.

Recent mall additions include Rags, a men's clothing store; Retro, a women's clothier; the Baby and Kids Room children's clothing store, and Universal Travel. The Mexican restaurant Ole and local jeweler Express Diamond, are scheduled to open this month.

"I think there's a core group of existing tenants that serve this market well. It's a matter of complementing them," Hemming said. "It could be in maternity, it could be baby clothing, any number of things that are being overlooked by national retailers that local or regional tenants can serve more effectively."

Hemming said Universal Travel is a good example of a business suited to its community.

"All of its staff are bilingual and therefore have an edge in local marketing," he said. "You have a lot of local and specialty retailers whose niche it is to market to a smaller demographic area."

Sandy Dellibovi, who joined The Esplanade as general manager in August, said the changes are partly in response to competition from Oxnard Factory Outlet, Camarillo Factory Stores, Buenaventura Mall and other local shopping complexes.

"It is related to competition, but the industry itself is [moving] in that direction," she said. "Many local merchants in our area have been able to enter the mall arena when maybe they hadn't been able to in the past."

As for any renovation and design changes at the mall, Hemming said that will be left up to the architect.

He said a plan should be in place by the beginning of January.

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