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Sunday, Mar 3, 2024

L.A. Fitness Gives Lift to Struggling Glendale Mall

It appears Glendale Marketplace is on the mend. After suffering a streak of vacancies earlier this year, the mall has secured national tenants LA Fitness, Buffalo Wild Wings and AT&T to set up shop next summer. Cypress Equities, a Dallas-based investment firm, acquired the 154,000-square-foot shopping center last year with plans to renovate the property and to take advantage of the traffic generated by Americana at Brand and the Glendale Galleria. The marketplace is located at 106 S. Brand Blvd., diagonal to the Galleria and a block away from the Americana. LA Fitness will take the place of the four-screen Galaxy Theater, which vacated a 35,700-square-foot space on the second floor in July. Improvements at the LA Fitness site are already underway, according to Tim Miller, vice president of Cypress Equities Real Estate Investment Management. “Tenants seeing all of the activity and construction has basically been a catalyst for the leasing of that space,” said Miller. “We’ve received a ton of interest (because of it).” Todd Nathanson, president of illi Commercial Real Estate in Encino, said he has been watching the retail market in Glendale very closely since 2007, and is encouraged by what he sees. “I definitely think recovery is in sight (for Glendale Marketplace). There are struggles going on clearly, but I think as the economy continues to recover and there is a renaissance of newer, stronger tenants like Buffalo Wild Wings and LA Fitness, stronger tenants will follow (and) it will continue to build speed.” In October, Designer Shoe Warehouse, brand footwear chain based in Columbus, Ohio, took the 15,000-square-foot space that Old Navy left vacant in May. And Buffalo Wild Wing will take up residence in a 6,000-square-foot location in the front of the mall. A lease plan on Cypress’s website reveals more than half a dozen properties with 1,900 square feet or less are still vacant in the center, not including the 35,000-square-foot vacancy on the second floor across from Outback Steakhouse. However, Cypress representatives said they have communicated with several smaller tenants to fill spaces on the lower levels of the mall, though they declined to names specific retailers. Property renovations are planned to begin in the first half of 2015. The company plans to repaint the Marketplace, freshen up the landscaping and to do some additional fountain work. Cypress did not release a dollar amount for the renovations. “We’ve been in the LA Fitness property doing a lot of (construction) work and with the DSW opening up, you can really see the traffic at the center has picked up exponentially,” Miller said. Additional Marketplace tenants include Vegas Seafood Buffet, a gourmet seafood and salad restaurant, and HomeGoods, a home furnishing chain owned by TJX Cos., which also owns the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains. Which One? After more than 12 years in the entertainment industry, Keith Markinson decided to give his “business legs” a spin. Markinson invested in a Which Wich franchise last year, and finally raised the curtain on his sandwich shop in Encino last month. The owner was surprised by the large turnout. “It was insane,” said Markinson, a 47-year-old resident of Tarzana, referring to the opening day. “There was a line out the door and it was so packed.” The company, headquartered in Dallas, has a modern take on fast-food sandwiches, offering vegetarian and vegan options. Patrons create their order by marking on a paper bag with a Sharpie all they’d like to include in their sandwich. Prices range from $6.25 for a small sandwich to $12.25 for a large. The chain has grown rapidly since it first opened in Dallas in 2003. There are now more than 250 locations nationwide, though that’s still a fraction of the 43,000 Subways nationwide. Markinson edited films for Sony and Warner Bros. in Hollywood, but when the economic recession hit in 2008 work slowed and Markinson was forced to look for other vocations. He wasn’t intending to open a franchise when he stumbled into a Which Wich shop with a friend and was very impressed with it. “People were in a good mood, the vibe of the restaurant was happy (and) it smelled good and felt good. It just had a lot of good energy to it,” he said. Which Wich requires franchisees to have $150,000 in liquid assets and an overall net worth of $500,000. Royalty fees are 6 percent of gross sales and national marketing costs can take up to another 4 percent, according to the company’s website. Neither Which Wich nor Markinson would disclose the franchisee fee but Markinson said he does not regret taking the risk. He’s already talking about opening a second shop in Westlake Village next year. “It’s about taking the vibe and the energy behind the food and passing it on to the guests – basically spreading the love,” he said. Staff reporter Champaign Williams can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or cwilliams@sfvbj.com.

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