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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Owner Finding a Replacement

Palmdale officials received good news when attending the recent International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas. The soon to be vacated Gottschalks building at the Antelope Valley Mall may not be empty for long, the officials were told, with up to three tenants interested in filling the space. This is no idle talk either from Forest City Enterprises, the owner of the mall and the retail building, said Danny Roberts, assistant executive director of Palmdale’s Community Redevelopment Agency. ?hey are talking terms and conditions,?Roberts said. In a city so heavily dependent on retail, it is no surprise that Palmdale had its share of store closures. Last year came the closures of Wickes Furniture and Linens ? Things at the Marketplace @ Palmdale. Electronics retailer Circuit City and Mervyn? followed after both chains filed for bankruptcy in the face of dwindling sales as consumers cut back on spending. Gottschalks Inc. took the same route this spring and announced the closing of all of its stores in California and other Western states by the summer. The Palmdale closure will result in about 100 workers losing their jobs, according to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice filed with the state Employment Development Department. Fresno-based Gottschalks struck a deal with Woodland Hills-based Great American Group LLC and three other firms to liquidate the remaining inventory. Palmdale officials, however, have known for at least a year ago there would be issues with the 104,000-square foot building when word spread that Gottschalks put it on the market, Roberts said. Forest City closed on the building in September for $12 million. Gottschalks then moved its operations into a smaller second location at the mall. Forest City has the option of leasing the building to a single tenant, between multiple tenants or dividing the building up, said Jeff Linton, a company spokesman. Despite the poor economy it is a hopeful sign that the space can be filled as it is tough for stores to commit to something new, Linton said. ?t is in a good location and would be attractive to the right kind of retailer,?Linton added. Gottschalks was one of four anchor stores at the Antelope Valley Mall, with the others being JCPenney, Sears and women? clothing retailer Forever 21 that moved into the former Mervyn? space. That retailers are looking at leasing these empty stores may be a glimmer of hope that a much-hoped for recovery is on the way. The city has a few good leads on the Wickes building, Roberts said, which would leave the Circuit City building as the one major unoccupied space. More sales tax dollars cannot come soon enough for Palmdale, which has made serious cuts to its budget to make up for the drop in revenues. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the most recent numbers available, the city brought in 12 percent less in sales tax than the same period in 2007. ?ertainly Palmdale is dependent on funds from that, which hurts the city in doing what it wants to do,?said Mel Layne, the president of the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance. At the ICSC conference, Roberts detected a mixed mood of where the retail market is going, with some attendees thinking the worst is yet to come for the commercial property market while others see a glimmer of change. ?rom our perspective we?e actually seeing people talking to us about locating in Palmdale,?Roberts said. ?hat is a good sign.?p>

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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