By Jim Tortolano
A shortage of retail and dining choices in West Garden Grove are in part the result of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” because many residents choose to shop and eat elsewhere.
That’s one of the conclusions of a recent study by the Urban Land Institute on the commercial viability of the Valley View Business Corridor – West Grove’s principal north-south thoroughfare.
It examined land use issues, community purchasing patterns, traffic and competition from adjacent cities. It was commissioned by the City of Garden Grove and included comments from area residents.
Among the findings were:
- West Garden Grove households have an average income above those both of Garden Grove and Orange County.
- Population growth in West Grove is stagnant and residents tend to be older than people in the rest of the city, although a trend toward younger homebuyers in the area is developing.
Retail sales are leaking to neighboring cities, especially along Seal Beach Boulevard, a short drive north into the Rossmoor area, where there are many chain restaurants and large stores such as California Pizza Kitchen, Target and Kohl’s.
- Residents shopping outside of West Grove are an impediment to attracting retail growth, because “currently, the VVBC [Valley View Business Corridor] is unsuccessful as a retail location not because of a lack of spending capacity, but because local residents choose to shop elsewhere.”
- Current zoning is outdated and should be changed to encourage community-oriented development, including mixed use. The creation of a community benefit district or a business-improvement district are encouraged.
- A “community brand” to create a unique identity for the Valley View Business Corridor – including a logo, and “brand story” – could be part of a marketing strategy that could attract new businesses.
Residents have complained about the loss of businesses along Valley View, including the closure of the Coco’s Restaurant at Cerulean Avenue, and the many vacancies in the adjacent strip mall.
Some signs of improvement have emerged. A developer is planning to transform an existing site just south of Chapman Avenue by expanding the movie complex there, and bringing in two eateries and a car wash.
Kris Beard, who served most recently as the councilmember representing District 1 (West Grove), was positive about the report.
“My sense is that the research and report validates the sustainability of new commercial activities in West Grove,” he said. “Now is the time for the city to organize and implement a branding and marketing campaign along the Valley View corridor to promote economic development in our end of town.”
Not quite as enthusiastic was the newly-elected councilmember from District 1, George Brietigam.
“In regard to the report, I think you get what you pay for. The report was free. I think the re-branding effort they discuss and [is] already taking place was a good suggestion,” he said.
“I found the insults in the report on West Garden Grove residents a bit off-putting. Saying mistruths such as ‘resistant to change’ and ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality was clearly unprofessional and typical of what you would expect in a free report.
“In my experience, the Grovers in the west are embracing of change. However, they don’t want negative change or a change just for change sake.
“I understand rezoning and mixed use appear to be their cookie cutter answer to all problems in almost every report they do.”
Categories: Garden Grove