By Natalie Dolce | Inland Empire
Link to orginal article
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, CA—In preparation for the upcoming ICSC Western States conference, we caught up with Randall Lewis, EVP of Lewis Retail Centers, to discuss that his company has in the works here in the County and about his observations on the state of economy in the County of San Bernardino.
GlobeSt.com: Lewis Retail Centers has a long history of development in San Bernardino County … can you tell me about some of your most recently completed projects?
Randall Lewis: Redlands Village is one of our most recent centers that we opened on Lugonia Avenue in Redlands. With close to 80,000 square feet of retail, the shopping center showcases a state-of-the-art Stater Bros. supermarket to serve the immediate trade area of more than 43,000 residents. In addition to Stater Bros., the shopping center features national retailers AutoZone, Starbucks, and a new CVS that will be opening in early October. The Stater Bros. is the first in the Lewis Retail portfolio and we look forward to working with them to develop additional locations in San Bernardino County.
In San Bernardino County, "retailers recognize the demand that is being created by" improved home prices and more households being developed, says Randall Lewis.
Another terrific project is High Desert Gateway in Hesperia off of the 15 freeway at Main Street. Sales at the center for both our national and regional tenants have been so strong since the center opened that we’ll be completing the final portion of phase one of the property later this year. In addition, because of the success of the shopping center it has created a need for a second phase of the property which we will be starting in mid-2015. The shopping center has excellent freeway visibility with an average of 120,000 cars passing by daily (per CalTrans).
GlobeSt.com: You have a number of retail properties in planning stages or under development in the County. Can you talk a little about those projects?
Lewis: We’re very excited about the second phase of High Desert Gateway in Hesperia. As I mentioned earlier, the success of phase one of the project has attracted national and regional retailers. They recognize the growth and demand in the High Desert, and as a result of the customer base that we’ve established for phase one of the project, we will be breaking ground and developing High Desert Gateway West in 2015. We have several national and regional tenants that we’re currently in negotiations with for the new phase. Once fully developed, both properties combined will provide the surrounding communities with as much as 500,000 square feet of retail.
In terms of other projects, as we move forward with our master-planned communities, we’re always looking at a retail component that can be incorporated into those plans. These retail enhancements to a master-planned community are essential to providing a vital amenity to residents. For example, the Santa Barbara apartments at Chino Hills retail component will consist of almost 15,000 square feet of retail, and we’ll be speaking to national and regional tenants about that project in 2015.
GlobeSt.com: What types of retailers are you seeing entering or expanding into San Bernardino County and what are they looking for in terms of space?
Lewis: We’ve seen a strong influx of food, services, and discount type stores moving into the County. Many of the food tenants are asking for patios for an outdoor component to their business. In addition, “walkability” is a major deciding factor in their site selection process as these retailers are looking for centers that are positioned in neighborhoods where they can build a solid and loyal customer base. This dynamic makes the shopping center a part of their neighborhood that they can walk to for a dining experience or a place that they can stop on their way home from work to pick up groceries, dry cleaning, etc.
GlobeSt.com: What are your observations on the state of economy in the County of San Bernardino, and how does that translate to the retail sector?
Lewis: The retail vacancies that occurred as a result of the recession of 2008 are filling up at a brisk pace. Factors that have begun to attract retailers back to San Bernardino County include improved home prices and more households being developed. Retailers recognize the demand that is being created by these evolving conditions. This, coupled with an extremely business-friendly environment for the cities within the County of San Bernardino, makes it a win-win situation for us all.
Visit the County of San Bernardino at ICSC Western Division Conference in San Diego at Booth #448. www.SBCountyAdvantage.com