For retail suppliers and West Coast distributors, the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center 45 miles north of Santa Clarita is looking more attractive than ever in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.Several retailer tenants of the real estate development’s industrial business park have signed agreements to expand their space. Among them are Swedish home goods giant Ikea, which last June added 190,000 square feet of space to its already massive 1.8 million-square-foot presence at the center, and RV retailer Camping World, which in late 2020 took over 390,000 square feet in a sublease from an L.A. apparel company.Additionally, according to Tejon Ranch Co.’s Executive Vice President of Real Estate Joe Rentfro, the company plans to break ground later this spring on a new 630,000-square-foot building in the park. He said the building permit for that structure was approved just months ago. Marketing for the space began this month and nothing was pre-leased, but medical and food supply chain companies have shown interest.
“On the back side of COVID, there’s been a lot of discussions about medical trying to bring more of their supply chain on this side of the Pacific and not have to worry about customs or other geopolitical issues that could affect the supply chain or slow it down,” Rentfro said. “They’re trying to get it to the U.S. first before distributing throughout the U.S.”Tejon Ranch’s proximity to Los Angeles and its adjacency to both the 5 freeway and Highway 99 are particularly attractive for agricultural producers in Kern County, Rentfro added. The company’s land straddles the line between L.A. County and Kern County.“That’s a natural fit,” he said. “Where we are is one of the largest ag producers in the country, and we’re close to one of the largest population bases that consumes that food in Los Angeles.” As for the retail side, Rentfro said lease activity at the Outlets at Tejon Ranch shopping mall has returned since its nadir last spring.
“We suffered 67 days of complete shutdown from March 20 through the end of May,” he said. “We bounced back pretty quickly. Two things we as a management team really tried to focus on while the operations were closed were: we wanted to continue to diversify the offerings we have and bring more entertainment offerings to the Outlets at Tejon.”To that end, the company signed a deal with experiential art gallery Bird Dog Arts to fill an 11,000-square-foot space created by merging two vacant units with one left behind by Australian clothing retailer Cotton On, which relocated to a larger space within the mall. Bird Dog Arts will feature works in various media created by California artists both on display and for sale. It is expected to open early this summer.
Also new to the mall is Cinnabon, a dessert option that fills a blind spot in the Outlets’ food offerings, Rentfro said. Cinnabon is expected to open in the second quarter.