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Businesses refuse to quit

Newhall shopping center feels the pang of not having expected anchor tenant

Posted: October 9, 2009 10:38 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.

An empty parking lot lies in front of what was supposed to be the new location for Tresierras Supermarket in the Stagecoach Plaza on Friday. The popular store was to be an anchor for the 14 retail spaces around it, some of which are vacant. The owners of the occupied spaces feel the store would have had a on their business.

 
More than two years ago, Ashely Vakili looked over a slick, brightly colored flier advertising the under-construction Stagecoach Plaza at Newhall Avenue and Carl Court.

A major reason she decided to open her business there was the promise of having the popular Tresierras Supermarket as the 30,000-square-foot anchor store.

With warm yellow walls and aromas of garlic and hot cheese, Vakili’s Pizza Di Marco has been cooking up gourmet pizzas for two years.

All the while, the anchor space has been sitting cold and empty, and her business is not what she expected.

During lunchtime on a recent Thursday, her shop was quiet and empty save for one man finishing up his meal.

Tresierras is still located in a roughly 7,000-square-foot shop in downtown Newhall, where it’s been since 1981.

Of the 14 retail spaces in the 25,000-square-foot strip mall where Vakili’s shop sits, several are vacant.

“The anchor store that’s supposed to be here is not,” Vakili said. “Those four walls and a roof were a big lie.”

Neither company Vice President Arturo Tresierras nor his attorney Saul Jaffe responded to questions posed in numerous phone calls and e-mails from The Signal left over a nearly three-week period.

A glimpse through the dusty glass doors of the building that was to house Tresierras reveals the interior to be unfinished, the cement floor covered in spots with a layer of dirt.

It’s but one of many retail locations standing empty throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

When ground was broken for the shopping center in May 2005, Arturo Tresierras said the planned store was the culmination of his family’s hard work and dreams.

With a restaurant inside and much more space, it was expected to open in late 2005, providing competition for Vallarta Supermarkets, which took over a former Albertsons location at Lyons Avenue and Apple Street.

In a televised interview in November 2005, he talked about ideas for revamping the downtown Newhall location.

The city’s economic development department has been keeping an eye on the vacant Carl Court property.

“I don’t believe it’s faring very well,” Economic Development Associate Andree Walper said. “It’s a fairly large space.
“It’s definitely high on our priority list.”

Tony Sayegh, who owns Smokin’ Aces Cigar Shoppe just a few doors down from Vakili’s pizza parlor, says the past two years have been difficult.

“I’m the luckiest of the bunch because what I sell is pretty recession-proof,” he said.

Vakili, who owns the Pizza Di Marco in Valencia and six other businesses in West Los Angeles, says she’ll get by.

“I’m a fighter,” she said as her eyes welled up with tears. “I’m teaching my two daughters that you can’t be a quitter.”

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