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Santa Maria office and retail center opts for remodel over expansion

By   /   Friday, October 12th, 2012  /   Comments Off

Evergreen Village retail project in Santa Maria shelved plans for the second phase of the project.

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When the bottom fell out of the economy, the owners of the Evergreen Village retail project in Santa Maria shelved their plans for the second phase of the project and instead poured their money and efforts into sprucing up their existing buildings.

Rather than move forward with Phase II of the project, developer PR Investments decided to spend several million dollars on a full remodel of 29,200 square feet of existing space. The remodeled portion is now 100 percent leased.

Located along Highway 135 between Santa Maria and Orcutt, Evergreen Village includes 20,052 square feet of retail and office space that was built as part of its first phase. It is fully entitled to build an additional three buildings totaling 25,000 square feet in Phase II. But when the economy tanked PR Investments decided to put its efforts into a multimillion-dollar interior and exterior remodel of the first phase, rather than expand the project.

“Every inch of the building was remodeled. We redid the parking lot, landscaping and interiors,” said Chris Prather with Prather Development, a representative for the landlord. “It wasn’t our ideal strategy, but now we have the entire project redone and the remodeled portion fully leased.”

The center has signed new leases with DollarTree and Goodwill. The total occupancy for the built portion, which includes some older buildings, is 82 percent.
The project currently has about 3,000 square feet of vacant retail space, plus 5,000 square feet of office space. It also includes a vacant entitled parcel slated for a 4,900-square-foot freestanding building with a drive-thru, ideally slated as a built-to-suit property for a bank.

The competitive market has prompted other retail projects in the region to also take the remodel route.

In Westlake Village, mall operator Regency Centers will start next year on a $10 million makeover of its Westlake Plaza & Center shopping center that includes remodeled facades and walkways.
The thinking seems to be that in a tenant’s market, landlords have to compete for business by offering tenant concessions and nicer facilities. At the same time, building spanking-new projects when vacancy rates in most markets are still high just doesn’t make sense. So why not spend a little money on a makeover for your existing space?

Westar moves forward

The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce is lauding the approval of the Westar mixed-use project in Goleta, a hotly contested development that includes 274 condo-style rental apartments plus 90,000 square feet new retail space.

The Goleta City Council approved the project at its Oct. 2 meeting. Developed by Costa Mesa-based Westar Associates, the project has seen fierce opposition from slow-growth advocates who argue that  it will obstruct views, cause increased traffic congestion and ruin Goleta’s small-town feel.
The chamber and other business groups have countered that the development will add much-needed work force housing to an area with apartment vacancy rates that tend to stay between 1 and 2 percent.

“This addition to our community is vital to our local economy and jobs. The close proximity to Goleta’s business centers, and parks and open space, provides a benefit to business as well as employee’s quality of life,” the chamber said in an email to its members.

The parcel  on the north side of Hollister Avenue between Glen Annie Road and Santa Felicia Drive is also slated for development in Goleta’s general plan. The project’s next steps in the approval process are to go on to the Design Review Board and through the building permitting processes.

DEAL OF THE WEEK

• Brombal Coins & Jewelry has purchased the former HoneyBaked Ham Co. building at 3000 State St. in Santa Barbara. The 3,585-square-foot freestanding building was sold by a local investor, according to Hayes Commercial Group.

The jewelry store’s proprietor, Paul Brombal, is relocating the family-owned business of 30 years from a storefront near Jeannine’s Bakery on upper State Street to the high-visibility corner retail building formerly occupied by HoneyBaked.

Michael Martz and Kristopher Roth of Hayes Commercial represented the seller in the deal, while Dean Vanecek represented Brombal. “Commercial real estate sales have been picking up steam over the past year as demand has grown,”  Roth said in a statement. “This desirable property received multiple offers and sold for full asking price.”

Brombal has not announced a timeline for the move. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• Contact Marlize van Romburgh at mvr@pacbiztimes.com.

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About the author

Managing Editor

Marlize van Romburgh covers banking, finance, agricultural and viticulture. She writes a weekly column on commercial real estate and a monthly column on the restaurant industry. Follow her at @marlizevr

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