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Retail vacancies abound locally

Six percent of Santa Clarita’s storefronts are empty

Posted: October 9, 2009 10:36 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.

In better days, Santa Clarita has seen less than 2 percent of its shopping spaces sit vacant.

By the end of July though, more than 6 percent of the city’s storefronts were empty, Economic Development Manager Jason Crawford said.

Some businesses failed as the economy withered, leaving dark spots in strip malls and shopping centers. Recently built centers are having trouble finding tenants for their freshly painted buildings.

In all, the number represents about 700,000 square feet of unused shopping space, and is about double the percentage Crawford said the city would see in a healthy market.

The city tracks vacancies with information compiled by Maryland-based commercial real estate company CoStar Group.

“We’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel ... but we’re not out of the woods yet,” Crawford said.

The city also partners with retail centers for business attraction campaigning, he said.

At least one bright spot for Crawford is that the 75,000-square-foot space formerly home to Mervyns is moving toward activity again.

An anchor space for the River Oaks shopping center at Magic Mountain Parkway and Auto Center Drive, the building has been empty since Mervyns closed in late 2008.

Crawford said a third of the building has been leased for a “specialty grocery store” and the property owners are in negotiations with potential tenants for the rest of the building.

The empty, 30,000-square-foot building that was to house Tresierras at Carl Court and Newhall Avenue is just one of many vacant retail locations around town.

At the corner of Valencia Boulevard and Magic Mountain Parkway, the Bouquet Plaza has several empty spaces. The building that housed an Applebee’s and a smoothie shop has been empty for months.

Across the parking lot, a car-audio store and a cellphone shop have gone out of business, leaving behind Barnes & Noble, an ice-cream parlour, a Baja Fresh and a credit union office.

A drive through the Granary Square shopping center located at the corner of McBean Parkway and Arroyo Park Drive reveals several empty storefronts.

Likewise, there are three empty retail spaces at the Old Orchard Shopping Center located at the corner of Lyons Avenue and Orchard Village Road. Built in the 1960s, the center is anchored by a Vallarta supermarket.

Crawford said there are several vacancies at The Plaza at Golden Valley, which opened early this year near the intersection of Golden Valley Road and Highway 14.

In Valencia, The Patios portion of Westfield Valencia Town Center is on track to open in the coming months, adding more than 200,000 square feet and 40 retail spaces to the mall.

While Westfield officials have declined to comment on any possible tenants, city officials said last week that so far between 10 and 15 businesses have applied for permits.

During last week’s State of the City luncheon, a Westfield representative said the company plans a “multi-phase” opening of The Patios over the course of a year.

Westfield has a strategy for making sure all those spaces are filled, Crawford said.

“They seem to know what they’re doing,” he said. “We’re hoping for the best.”


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