While local business owners often cringe, cities love it when trendy big-name brands set up shop in their downtowns. Such moves are typically a sign of economic growth.
In San Luis Obispo, which is experiencing an influx of development winding through the planning and construction phases, retailers appear to be taking notice.
According to SLO Chamber of Commerce sources, fashionistas and yogis alike can rejoice as athletic apparel giant Lululemon looks to make its stay in the city more permanent.
Last year the hugely popular company opened a pop-up shop downtown from April to September. The store was such a hit with locals that the brand is planning a showroom concept and aims to open its doors on April 3.
The label is such a phenomenon among consumers that Racked, an online media outlet that covers the fashion industry, recently published a story on eBay’s flourishing black market for Lululemon garments.
According to the article, a single pair of the company’s running shorts or leggings are so coveted people are willing to drop $800 for them at resale. Thanks to a strict return policy, resale Lululemon gear can garner markups of 1,000 percent.
“Lululemon has one of the highest sell-through rates on our site and that data has been consistent,” Tracy DiNunzio, CEO of online resale site Tradesy, told Racked.
The Lululemon showroom is slated to take up residence in the historic Kaetzel House at 547 Marsh St., the former home of the Land Conservancy of SLO County and the Johnson Gallery.
Features of the showroom will include a range of complimentary services open to the community including in-house yoga classes and a hiking club. In keeping with the Kaetzel House’s previous use as a gallery, the showroom will feature one local artist each month and participate in Art After Dark. The carriage house on the back of the property will be home to a massage therapy studio.
The addition of Lululemon follows an earlier announcement that low-cost, fast-fashion retailer H&M would be one of the anchor tenants in the Chinatown development.
The project, which is revamping a long-vacant strip of Monterey Street near Mission Plaza, broke ground in January and is expected to be complete by July 2016.
Copeland Properties is behind the development, which will include 37 residential units, 50,310 square feet of retail space and 2,780 square feet of office space. H&M is expected to lease 20,000 square feet of space.
Walmart on the way
Walmart Stores recently announced it’s moving forward on a long-planned 118,000-square-foot location in Atascadero.
Construction of the new store has been on hold as the company reviewed its expansion plans.
The Atascadero store and an adjacent retail development, known as the Del Rio Marketplace, have been the source of much debate for the better part of a decade. After the city council approved the shopping center in 2012, residents opposed to the project sued the city and eventually lost their case.
Walmart hasn’t pulled any building permits yet, but the discount retail behemoth has until July 2016 to do so. The company also has five one-year extension options for the project.
Downtown Adobe sold
The Santa Barbara-based Hutton Parker Foundation recently purchase the Hill-Carrillo Adobe building at 11 E. Carrillo St. Hutton bought the building from the Santa Barbara Foundation for $2.35 million in an off-market deal.
“The building has always been a community building, and when the foundation found new offices, they decided they didn’t want to be a landlord,” said Tom Parker, president of the Hutton Parker Foundation. “I saw this as an opportunity to make sure this building stays a community asset.”
The building is used by nonprofits to host conferences and meetings. Union Bank also has offices in the building.
Parker said Union Bank will likely stay for the five years left on its lease. After that, the plan is to move new nonprofits in.
“The trustees jumped at the opportunity to put the Adobe under the long-term stewardship of one of our most innovative and trusted philanthropists, who we knew would protect and honor its legacy as a community resource,” said Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation.
The building is registered with the California State Park’s Office of Historic Preservation. According to the state’s website, Daniel Hill of Massachusetts built the Adobe around 1825 for his bride, Rafaela Ortega y Olivera. She was the granddaughter of José Francisco Ortega, founder and first commandante of the Royal Presidio of Santa Barbara.