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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022
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Healthy Retail Center Tries Market in Calabasas

Courtesy of a Northern California real estate company, a new commercial center has opened in Calabasas with a tenant mix that seems skewed toward fitness and healthy living. Located at 5727-5789 Las Virgenes Road, the six-structure Las Virgenes Village Shopping Center retail cluster’s includes Dig Indoor Cycling and Strength Training, hair salon Bungalow 21, Float Fitness, Angel’s Gymnastics Place, Inner Power Yoga Studio and Peachwave Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream. Perched atop 11 acres, the six-structure shopping center offers 6,204 square feet of retail space, according to CoStar data. The property is managed by De Anza Properties in Los Altos, where Kathy Smyrniotis serves as the property manager. “It was part of a larger development,” Smyrniotis explained in an email to the Business Journal. “We entitled the land for both Mount Calabasas and the shopping center. It was a long journey and took 15 years for the entitlements.  We sold the housing to Shea and the site was regraded.” Consumers in Calabasas already have a plethora of retail options. They include Commons at Calabasas, a 21-year-old Caruso mall with lead tenants Edwards Cinema, Ralphs supermarket, Barnes & Noble and Sephora; Courtyard at the Commons, anchored by a Trader Joe’s and an Ulta Beauty at 23741 Calabasas Road; and Parkway Calabasas Shopping Center, home to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. There is also The Summit at Calabasas, at 26767 Agoura Road, which features an Erehwon, Sushi Nishi and a Jersey Mike’s; and Creekside Village, with a Fuddruckers, Crust Pizzeria and Studio A Pilates, at 26527 Agoura Road. De Anza Properties employs 1,500 real estate professionals nationwide. Most of the real estate firm’s assets are in the Bay Area and Salt Lake City, with a few in San Diego. “We do not do a lot but what we do we stress quality locations and quality improvements,” Smyrniotis said. She described Las Virgenes Shopping Center as having a “relaxed Santa Barbara/Calabasas feel.” “The goal is to be community oriented with services that are needed without having to fight the traffic to go to a bigger development,” she said.  As for the vacant storefronts at the property, Smyrniotis said that De Anza is working with all brokers in the hunt to lease them. “We have been a bit picky in that we want businesses that will do well in the location,” she said. Road’s backstory The shopping center stands on a problematic stretch of Las Virgenes Road. The hillsides’ pastoral beauty belies the construction challenges and uphill battles developers must wage with the city and residents to win approval to build on them. Yet with most of the easier tracts of land already developed, only the hillsides are left. And as real estate prices rise, developers are making the climb. The city’s project approval process is costly and time-consuming, according to several developers, but they cite opposition from residents as the hardest obstacle. On the south side of the 101 freeway, development began with gas stations, retail shops and restaurants around the freeway interchange and it spread to Agoura and Las Virgenes roads in what at the time was an unincorporated area of L.A. County. By the time Calabasas became a city in the early 1990s, several property owners along the portion south of the highway had large land tracts approved for projects by L.A. County. Residents felt that the area was being developed too fast with not enough restraints, and several projects have encountered obstacles, including a planned hotel by Malibu developer Richard Weintraub, whose second design in June 2016 won city approval for a three-story hospitality structure on a previously entitled tract next to Rondell Road. His initial hotel concept should have been easily approved – it was an allowed use of the parcel, and city officials wanted a hotel there for the estimated $626,000 hotel bed tax revenue it would generate. But when Weintraub proposed a four-story Marriott International Springhill Suites hotel in front of a sloping hillside, his design exceeded the city’s three-story height limit, and the fourth story triggered an outcry from residents who claimed the height would obstruct views of the hills. After the Calabasas City Council approved the project, voters sponsored a ballot measure and rejected it. With so much already invested in the project, Weintraub cut off the fourth story and received city approval soon after. “I don’t think those people want anything built,” Weintraub told the Business Journal at the time. Carol Lawrence contributed to this story.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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