We’ve all seen commercial spaces, some at large shopping centers, strip malls or standalone, which either remain vacant or have a lot of turnover. Businesses come and go, with months of vacancies in between. Are those spaces jinxed?
The popular shopping center, The Hub Hillcrest Market at University Avenue and Vermont Street has three vacancies. That’s not many for a large and successful commercial center. But what does it reveal?
Regency Centers is an owner, operator, and developer of shopping centers nationwide. It manages The Hub from its Solana Beach branch office. The Hub’s demographics show a daytime population of 36,656 in a one-mile radius, and 370,745 in a three-mile radius. Average household income is $84,869 ( one-mile radius) and $81,997 (three-mile radius).
On University Avenue across from Ike’s Place, there are two restaurant spaces, where eateries have opened and closed. The one closest to the avenue had previous lessees, including Pick Up Stix and Whistling Duck Tavern. Both closed down. Is there an explanation why?
Nate Benedetto, principal at Next Wave Commercial has some answers. “People talk about locations being 'jinxed' or 'cursed' but I don't believe in wizards,” said Benedetto. “Pick Up Stix has lost momentum countywide, and closed several locations,” he explained. “Whistling Duck failed to attract the industry buzz that is needed to make things work in high-rent shopping centers.”
Set to move into that space is Nishiki Ramen, which has an outlet in Kearny Mesa. Next door to Nishiki Ramen is one of three Hub vacancies. It was once occupied by a seafood restaurant. Next to Ralphs is a space vacated by Nutrishop, a vitamin and supplements store. It enjoyed a four-star rating on Yelp.com. A third vacancy is on Vermont Street, adjacent to Wells Fargo.
Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of Hillcrest Business Association., has a different explanation of turnover, whether it’s in a shopping center like The Hub, or free-standing restaurants in Hillcrest. Nicholls says Hillcrest is “between a rock and a hard place. There are two major problems.”
While he says Hillcrest has some of the best restaurants in San Diego, “we’re not seeing new residential development” as in Little Italy, Gaslamp Quarter, East Village and North Park. The density in those neighborhoods affects the “base of customers.” Nicholls says most developers avoid Hillcrest residential projects because of preservation activism, and likely “$40,000 in legal bills” to deal with it. And he added: “We have a parking problem.” Proposals for a Hillcrest parking structure like the one in North Park failed to advance.