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Monday, Jan 30, 2023
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Westlake Plaza Hopes Facelift Allures Shoppers

The first phase of the Westlake Plaza facelift was completed this month as its owner seeks to keep pace with competing shopping centers in the affluent Westlake Village retail market. Regency Centers Corp. in Los Angeles invested $27 million in the three-year renovation and signed more than a dozen new tenants in the process, with plans for a second phase already in the works. The 47-year-old center now boast a tenant mix that includes restaurants Mendocino Farms, Pitfire Pizza, Pearl District, Pressed Juicery, Le Pain Quotidien and Ice Cream Lab. New local and national retailers include Les Boudoirs, Luna Gardens Events, SENNA Cosmetics, M. Fredric, Corepower Yoga, Sweat Shoppe and Eighteen Eight Fine Men’s Salon. “The tenants were so critical in making this project a success. Many of the new tenants are in high demand for any new project in Southern California – they have a lot of options and your project has to be pretty special to attract them,” said Patrick Conway, Regency Center regional manager. The renovation focused on making the 282,000-square-foot plaza more cohesive and pedestrian friendly by adding wooden trellises and benches throughout. Regency purchased the plaza, which consists of three separate shopping centers anchored by Vons and Gelson’s, from three different owners between 1982 and 1997. As part of the restoration the developer removed parking barriers and put in walkways to merge the three centers better. Now customers can also access storefronts opened along what was once the back of the plaza, from either the parking lot or a walkway which wraps around the shopping center giving it a 360 degree effect. Many existing tenants resigned leases and reinvested in their businesses as part of the restoration. Tuscany il Ristorante, an Italian restaurant owned by Tomasso Barletta, has been at Westlake Plaza for nearly 27 years. Barletta revamped his restaurant and added an outdoor patio near the entrance, with more than a dozen chairs and tables draped in white tablecloths. “(Westlake Plaza) is like a community center. There is a lot of space being sacrificed just for people to hang out,” Barletta said. “And I like how Regency put so many different stores in the center (so) that it doesn’t feel like a competition.” Westlake Plaza was in critical need of the rehab, especially since local developer Dan Selleck completed the upscale, 243,000-square-foot Shoppes at Westlake Village last year. The market also includes the 205,000-square-foot Promenade at Westlake by L.A. developer Rick Caruso. With the first phase complete, Regency hopes to start work on the second phase by June, with plans of completing it before the holidays. This phase will focus on making the areas surrounding anchor Gelson’s supermarket more pedestrian-friendly to match the elements and details of the first phase. Regency estimates this will cost $5 million. The plaza is currently 97 percent leased with only a handful of vacancies, one of which is next to Gelson’s. On the Move Abby’s Millstone Bakery Co. in Agoura Hills, a largely wholesale operation that specializes in fresh-baked breads and pastries, is expanding to Sylmar this month. Abby’s partnered with Adler Realty Investments to lease a 28,000-square-foot warehouse that will be transformed into a food service facility for the commercial bakery. Adler purchased the 13294 Ralston Ave. property in January for $2.5 million, and will be renovating it to the specifications of bakery owner Abby Franke, who is taking a 10-year-lease. “This will be the full commercial baking facility for Abby,” said Adler principal Mike Adler. “Right now they have a small facility but they’ve been hugely successful and picked up a lot of large customers; customers who want more product.” The bakery’s current 2,300-square-foot location at 5005 Kanan Road, no longer meets its production demands. The warehouse will be stripped and rebuilt to include a preparation area and a storage refrigerator, with additional space for equipment. Abby’s currently distributes to about a dozen Albertson stores in the area and several Gelson’s, among other markets. “Abby’s situation is he has the growing business but he didn’t have the capital needed to take the next step,” said Adler. “I looked at the business and thought it was something I believed would be successful, and I was willing to provide the capital.” Franke did not respond to calls for comment. Staff Reporter Champaign Williams can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or cwilliams@sfvbj.com.

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