New Business Roundup: Variety of retailers plan to open in La Jolla Village
By Pat Sherman
The din of hammers and buzz of electric saws could be heard from within commercial spaces up and down Girard Avenue this week, from the three-story building at the corner of Girard and Wall Street that will house the new La Plaza La Jolla boutique shopping center (former site of Jack’s La Jolla), to La Jolla’s design district along upper Girard Avenue.
Designs on La Jolla
Perhaps nowhere in the Village is the retail sector experiencing such a pronounced transformation than in the three blocks that comprise La Jolla’s design district, which includes existing retailers such as Everett Stunz bath and linens, Bang & Olufsen, Cabachon Tile and Stone, Lavish bath gallery, Roche Bobois, Furba home design and Linge Roset home accessories and lighting.
Opening in the design district in August and September are upscale culinary shop Sur La Table, 7643 Girard, California Closets, 7603 Girard (at the corner of Torrey Pines Road) and Nativa furniture, 7770 Girard (which has an existing location in Solana Beach).
Longtime La Jolla retailer Rick Armour, owner of My Own Space (MOS) furniture and interiors, considered relocating outside the Village when his lease was up at the end of last year, though he ultimately decided to stay, moving one block further into the heart of the design district.
Armour’s new, 4,000-square-foot showroom, which focuses on Italian furniture and accessories, is now located at 7722 Girard, suite 110, adjacent Bang & Olufsen (which downsized, creating the vacancy).
“It was one of those things that luckily kind of fell into our laps,” Armour said. “This is about as good as it gets for us — being a little bit closer to the other high-end showrooms.”
Armour said he appreciates the synergistic relationship among business owners in the design district.
“I think it’s a good working relationship,” he said. “All of us are exclusive dealers of the lines that we carry, so there’s no crossover. … We always encourage (customers and designers) to stay and shop in La Jolla, instead of going to Los Angeles.
“I think being here and having things centrally located is easier for them,” Armour added. “They can park, and within a two-block radius see a number of different lines.”
Also within the design district, Emma Jane women’s fashions and bridal boutique will open in August at 7734 Girard Ave., Suite C.
Prospecting for business
National retailers are showing increased interest in renting space in the Village, said La Jolla-based commercial real estate brokers Mike Slattery, with Cassidy Turley La Jolla Property Group, and Phil Wise, with Colliers International.
“The retail market’s gotten very good,” Wise said. “There’s a lot of good tenants coming in and there seems to be lot of interest with regional and national tenants … instead of (just) mom and pops.”
Wise said that while there were 23 commercial property vacancies in the Village during the previous quarter, there are currently only about 15 or 16 vacancies.
However, both Slattery and Wise said recent renovations to the “user friendly” Westfield UTC Mall — which now bears an uncanny resemblance to Fashion Valley Mall in tenants and design — has forced commercial property owners in the Village to up their game to rent commercial space.
“Activity is strong,” said Slattery, though noting that closing deals with prospective tenants has been a challenge given competition from newly renovated and nearby outlets such as the UTC mall, Del Mar Highlands Town Center and Flower Hill Mall.
Unlike a mall, where the landlord is responsible for upkeep of common spaces, La Jolla’s sidewalks and common areas are maintained — though these days often neglected — by adjacent merchants and building owners, said La Jolla Village Merchants Association Board President Phil Coller.
Though it is a building owner’s responsibility to maintain sidewalks, much of the commercial property in La Jolla is owned by family trusts or landlords residing outside the city, with little incentive to maintain common areas, Slattery said.
The tarnished condition of some portions of the Village has not escaped the notice of potential tenants either, said Slattery, adding that selling the Village often means educating potential tenants on all that La Jolla has to offer, which might not be readily apparent.
Such details include the city- and community-approved (though as yet unfunded) Belvedere Promenade project, which would replace an existing one-way section of Prospect Street between Herschel and Girard avenues with an ocean-view pedestrian promenade.
“A lot of people are real excited about that,” said Slattery, who said he shows prospective tenants a rendering of the project when negotiating leases.
Slattery, who negotiated the lease for Sur La Table, said the retailer was strongly considering renting space in the Westfield UTC Mall.
“What I do is educate and train people to enter the La Jolla market,” he said. “It’s not just based on initial appearances. You have to know the whole story.”
While both Slattery and Wise said they are optimistic the high-end transformation of the former Jack’s restaurant and nightclub complex could generate additional business, they said renting the space could prove challenging.
“They still have to solve the problem of how you get from Girard to the retail tenants without going up and down stairs — and they really need a major draw in the center,” Wise said.
Iberico Spanish Bistro has opened at 909 Prospect St. #290 (formerly Vigilucci’s Ristorante). The upscale, family-style restaurant from restaurateur Juan Carlos Gomez (Old Town’s El Agave) specializes in Spanish tapas and gin cocktails.
Voila Creative Fresh Food will open soon at 723 Pearl St. (former site of Bibby’s Crepe Café). Voila owner Laurent Hebbelinck said his eatery offers build-your-own salads with organic ingredients, plus soups, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and pastries from his native Belgium.
Essy’s Studio, featuring the art of former San Diego Sports Arena staff photographer Essy Ghavameddini, has opened at 8008, lower Girard Ave., Suite 190.
Vida Pilates has opened at 702 Pearl St.
FitWall training studio has opened at 7710 Fay Ave.
Bird Rock Fit has relocated to 6875 La Jolla Blvd. (formerly Dearinger Salon).
Heavenly Couture women’s apparel will open in September at 1025 Prospect St. (formerly Bardot Bars).
Peerless Fine Art photography will open in August at 1273 Prospect St. (formerly Skova Soul jewelry).
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- La Jolla, Del Mar: Rebounding retail markets face their own challenges
- Spreading Goodwill: Impressive turnout for opening of La Jolla Goodwill store
- Viscuso kills plans for Mike’s La Jolla nightclub
- LJVMA events to spotlight ‘Beautiful La Jolla’
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