Business & Real Estate

Campaign under way to lure grocery to South Land Park

Things may be looking up at a South Land Park shopping center that lost its anchor tenant almost a year ago.

A commercial broker has just been hired to recruit a replacement for the Vic’s IGA Market that shut down last March. Broker Bobby Rich of Rich & Rich said his goal is to have a national grocer signed up for the space by the end of summer.

“The owners have very high standards for the space,” Rich said of his marching orders to backfill the 30,000-square-foot, 48-year-old building.

A lease with a prominent neighborhood grocer would lead to significant investments in the South Hills Shopping Center by the three groups that control separate parts of the property, Rich said, including his own client, the Chang Family Trust.

“All the owners have collectively come together and agreed ... that once we have a new grocery, they will improve the center,” Rich said. They then would start recruiting higher-end neighborhood-serving retailers for spaces that have long been vacant.

Such changes can’t come soon enough, said Michael Ellison, president of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association.

He said the center –now known mostly for its U.S. Post Office –has “been on the downturn” for years and deteriorated even more in recent months, becoming a “haven for transients.”

Those sorts of concerns led to a community meeting last November with City Councilman Jay Schenirer that drew more than 130 area residents.

The family has no interest in leasing to a tenant the neighborhood association wouldn’t like.

Bobby Rich on his client’s plans for the vacant site

Rich, who recently left Retail West to form his own brokerage company, said there’s reason to be optimistic about drawing a well-known grocer that in turn would lure coffee shops, dry cleaners, bakeries, restaurants and other retail operations.

First off, the former Vic’s, built in 1968, is in excellent shape, he said. More important, he said, grocery operators are going to be attracted by the high-density, relatively affluent neighborhoods surrounding the center.

“Grocers understand that Sacramento is certainly a competitive market but they will also take into consideration the residential density,” he said.

Another plus is the center’s location on South Land Park Drive, a key arterial connecting the Land Park and Pocket areas.

So what national chains are likely to be interested in the location? Rich isn’t disclosing the stores he’s going to target.

But Walmart Neighborhood Market is one likely candidate, according to local brokers. Others that might be interested are Whole Foods, which is rolling out its smaller-format 365 market concept in smaller centers, Smart & Final Extra and Ranch 99 Market. An outside possibility is Trader Joe’s, which considered a move into Land Park seven years ago,

The quality of the eventual grocery tenant will dictate the type of retail operations the center’s owners will eventually be able to recruit, said Dave Lucas, a Bay Area investment broker who has represented one of South Hill’s ownership groups.

As he put it, “The better the anchor, the more interest there will be from others who’ll say, ‘If Walmart goes there, I’ll go there, too.’”

Moving on up

Commercial real estate brokerage firm Kidder Mathews has taken the first step in an effort to double its Sacramento-area presence over the coming year.

The company recently added three veterans to the eight brokers it started with when it began Sacramento operations last October by acquiring the local office of Voit Real Estate Services.

The three newcomers –Bruce Wirt, Dennis Shorrock and Tom Bacon –all are top-producing office brokers and “good guys with a ton of experience,” said Kevin Sheehan, Kidder’s managing partner for the Sacramento area.

Sheehan said he expects to add several more people in the next few months and have 15 to 20 people on board by the end of the year, along with a new office in midtown or downtown Sacramento to supplement the existing office in Roseville.

Sheehan said his team already is reaping benefits from the affiliation with Kidder, a fast-growing Seattle-based company known for its generous commissions structure.

Among the positives: Kidder’s network of offices elsewhere in Northern California.

“We’re seeing a lot of business coming our way (via referrals) from the Bay Area and Silicon Valley,” he said.

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