By Jim Tortolano
Before a standing room only crowd in a meeting room in West Grove Park, residents were told Wednesday night of the potential – and challenges – of bringing more stores, shops and restaurants to the West Garden Grove area.
Speaking to the people packed into the room at the Economic Development Open House were – among others – Mayor Steve Jones, City Manager Scott Stiles, Community and Economic Developer Director Lisa Kim and broker Ian Brown, managing director of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.
Kim ticked off the progress and hurdles involved in filling in the gaps along the main commercial strip of Valley View Street.
Regarding the closed Coco’s restaurant at Cerulean, one issue is that the leaseholders are still paying rent. But she added that the property owners of that center – which also includes a vacant multi-tenant retail building – were interested in attracting new tenants, and that the city was connecting them with brokers who might be interested in bringing businesses to the west side.
The process of filling those empty spaces commences with “opening a dialogue. It has to start somewhere,” she said.
Also on the radar is the Four Star Cinema near Chapman Avenue. According to Kim, the building was sold last year, and the new operator is planning on keeping it as a movie house or retail. But the nearby AMF Valley View Lanes could be in for a bigger change.
“I understand that the lease for the bowling alley is due to expire or terminate over the next couple of years, so they are evaluating retail options,” she said.
Kim is also reaching out to small businesses in addition to major chains, trying to lure them to the city, or expand existing operations.
Brown spoke about the role of several factors in bringing commercial activity to Garden Grove. When potential business operators consider doing business in an area, “the first thing they ask is, is there a demand for my product in the area?”
He added, “What they look at is demographics and population, the income. In that regard, West Garden Grove’s demographics are really tremendous,” said citing income levels higher than national and Orange County averages. The area has good population density and educational levels, he added.
The western part of the city also did well in the area of “psychographics,” which deals with what people buy and why they buy it.
“So why isn’t everybody clamoring to be here?” he said. “Well, it’s just not that easy. You’ve got to have the right-sized space.” A discount department store such as Target would need about 130,000 square feet; a modern supermarket 40-50,000 square feet. “It isn’t just the income; it also the opportunity. And opportunity is controlled by the landowners.” If they’re willing to combine spaces, or perhaps knock down buildings and replace them with larger structures, retail growth could be spurred, he suggested.
Stiles invited the attendees to meet with city staff present to ask questions, make suggestions and nominate possible new businesses for the area. Representatives of the economic development, code enforcement and other city departments were on hand to engage in face-to-face talks with residents.
He added that input gathered at the meeting would be useful in taking further steps for development in the area, and that city staff would be back in two to three months to again consult residents.
Categories: Garden Grove