Business Roundup: More comings and goings in the Village of La Jolla

Progress on the new La Plaza shopping complex at Wall and Girard is delayed while architects wait for the city to issue a building permit.

By Pat Sherman

To give our readers a sense of the changes constantly afoot in the Village, La Jolla Light offers its readers quarterly business roundups.

This installment finds commercial vacancies in the Village of La Jolla down slightly from the same time last year, though a number of familiar retailers are bidding the Village farewell, including Armani Exchange at Girard Avenue and Silverado Street (their lease expires at the end of January), and Carly & Co. interior design services, at 702 Girard. Ave.

It’s no secret that Victoria’s Secret left the building at Prospect Street and Herschel Avenue Oct. 1 — also the former site of Hotel Parisi, which closed its doors in April (a vacancy that has yet to be filled). Arjang Art Group has entered the space formerly occupied by Victoria’s Secret, relocating from 1025 Prospect St. The store features original art, lithographs, serigraphs, antiques, sculptures, rugs and even Victorian art.

Also on Prospect, two prominent buildings sold in the past month, including the 5,623-square-foot, two-story office building at 930 Prospect St. leased by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage (which went for $6.2 million in cash). The longtime La Jolla real estate company will remain as the sole tenant. The building was constructed in 1990, and remodeled five years ago.

In addition, the approximately 29,252-square-foot building at 909 Prospect St. (home to Barfly nightclub and restaurant) sold for $12 million. The two-story building, originally housing a Hard Rock Café, was built in 1989.

Artist rendering of the new La Plaza boutique shopping complex at Girard Avenue and Wall Street. Courtesy Dempsey Construction

La Plaza update
The much-anticipated remodel of the three-story building formerly home to Jack’s La Jolla restaurant and nightclub complex at Wall Street and Girard Avenue is taking longer than anticipated. Its unveiling as the luxury, boutique shopping complex, La Plaza, La Jolla should now take place in February or March of 2014 (instead of this month, as initially announced), according to Dempsey Construction, which is completing exterior and interior renovations.

A Dempsey representative said the company took the demolition phase as far as it could, and was waiting for the city to issue the actual building permit, which it received this month.

Improvements to the 33,626-square-foot complex include installation of plaster and pre-cast concrete features, new windows throughout, decorative guardrails, new pavers, hand-painted accent tiles and a combination elevator-clock tower.

Davlyn Investments acquired the property at auction in November 2012. “We saw this as an opportunity to redevelop and revitalize, arguably, the premier corner in La Jolla with a new energy, while bringing back the elegance that existed in La Jolla in years past,” said Davlyn CEO Jon Williams.

The project team also includes La Jolla’s Alcorn & Benton architects and Jim Rinehart of CBRE, among others.

Williams said Davlyn is in “advanced talks” with multiple tenants, and continues to court others, though none have been announced to date.

“We are searching for a salon or a luxury spa for the third floor, as well as a restaurant for the premier space in the building that includes ocean views and terrace seating,” Williams added in a news release. “We expect to finally begin announcing the names of our first group of shops (sometime this month).”

Speaking with La Jolla Light, Mike Slattery of Cassidy Turley commercial Real Estate, and Phil Wise of Colliers International Real Estate, both said they have great hopes for the upscale, high-profile center, though note that it could be hard to lease, given that there is no direct ground-floor access to the facility (though there is an exterior elevator).

This building at 909 Prospect St. (built in 1989) recently sold for $12 million. Richard Walker’s Pancake House is opening on the opposite side of the building’s lower level.

The Commercial Pulse
Given today’s array of online shopping options, national retailers are more tentative about brick-and-mortar sites, and their associated overhead costs, Slattery said.

“They’re signing shorter leases typically (and) they want provisions that allow them to cancel early,” he said. “Some want to be on a year-to-year basis, so if they have a marginal store they’re not stuck in a 10-year-lease.”

Slattery said retail tenants also seem to be downsizing, and deliberating more before they open in a particular market, such as La Jolla, taking into consideration what tenants are already there (to drive customer traffic), as well as the availability of parking and the condition of streets, sidewalks and other common areas — something Slattery said is sorely lacking in La Jolla.

Given budget cuts at the city, Slattery said funding for common area upkeep may have to come from a private funding source, noting the La Jolla Community Foundation’s upcoming Partners in Grime community beautification project.

“Sometimes you only get one shot and (if potential tenants) see a lack of attention (they go elsewhere),” he said, noting that many of the buildings in La Jolla are owned in trust or by heirs that don’t live in the region and thus aren’t as invested in the property’s upkeep.

“You’ve got to convince people that this is a first-class market and that we’ve got a first-class venue that’s going to be taken care of,” Slattery said. “That’s the issue I run up against every day.”

Another challenge, said Wise, is that many of La Jolla’s historic buildings have façades or window spaces that don’t meet the needs of modern retailers, yet a potentially historic status may prevent them from being altered.

“If you can’t really change the look of the buildings, then you can’t get the tenant and you have an empty building,” he said.

“In the Village, you have a community that really is stuck in the wrong century,” Wise added, noting further impediments to change codified in La Jolla’s copious design standards. “You have all these roadblocks in front of you to do deals, or to attract people. This is a resort community that is so set in keeping things as they were — and the world’s moving on.”

Wise also noted the trend away from retail merchants toward service-based merchants, particularly the proliferation of gyms and exercise studios.

“Health clubs do help certain types of retailers, so they’re actually good for the Village,” he added, noting people often stop for a bite to eat or to buy clothes or other exercise-related gear after their workouts.

Operations manager Kevin Smith and owner Kate Masel of La Jolla-based New Orleans Cuisine and Catering gourmet food truck Courtesy

Dining options
The space formerly occupying Forever Fondue (adjacent Barfly at 909 Prospect St.) will soon reopen as Richard Walker’s Pancake House. The gourmet breakfast spot, which has another San Diego location in the Gaslamp District, was founded in 1948 in Evanston, Ill., just north of Chicago.

Owner Richard Walker, son of the eatery’s co-founder, said he feels La Jolla’s mix of discerning diners and business professionals is a perfect fit for his establishment.

“I feel very confident we’re going into the right market,” said Walker, who also considered opening in Coronado, Del Mar, Liberty Station and Rancho Santa Fe before choosing La Jolla.

Earlier this month, New Orleans native and La Jolla resident Kate Masel set her gourmet food truck, New Orleans Cuisine and Catering, in motion. Kevin Smith, the former owner of Extreme Pizza, is serving as the truck’s operations manager.

The business features an array of Cajun offerings such as chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo, and shrimp and Andouille sausage jambalaya, as well as creole offerings like shrimp and corn bisque and crawfish or shrimp etouffee.

Everything is prepared on site, including po’ boy sandwiches, California catfish tacos and warm, powder sugar-dusted beignets (deep-fried creole-style fritters).

In addition, the space formerly occupied by Ortega’s Place at 621 Pearl St. has been replaced by an authentic, Tijuana-style eatery called, The Taco Stand, owned and operated by the proprietors of Pizza on Pearl.

Mary’s English Kitchen is scheduled to open at 7918 Ivanhoe Ave. in early 2014, in the 1,346-square foot space formerly occupied by Mr. Taco (which has been vacant since the space caught fire and was remodeled last year).

The building is owned by Capital Growth Properties, a representative for which said they are in negotiations to lease two other vacant spaces in the building (located next to the Wall Street post office).

Dr. Thomas Yee has opened an office in the La Jolla Professional Building. He helps people recover from addition to opiates, while minimizing painful withdrawal symptoms

Health and wellbeing
Dentists David and Jeffrey Brockett are moving into the former James S. Copley Library and Copley Press headquarters at 7776 Ivanhoe Ave., Suite 100. The 25,659-
square-foot building and adjacent parking lot sold for $6.15 million in October 2012, as part of the Copley Press liquidation process.

It is now almost completely occupied.

In early January, La Jolla Cosmetic Laser Clinic will open in a newly remodeled space in the 7700 block of Fay Avenue, that is quadruple the size of its former site at 1111 Torrey Pines Road.

Finally, Dr. Thomas Yee has opened the La Jolla Medical Clinic for Rapid Opiate Detox in the La Jolla Professional Building at 1150 Silverado St.

With assistance from Dr. Jennifer Prager of Counseling Clinics of La Jolla, Yee’s program helps people overcome addiction to opiates — from heroin to the powerful prescription painkiller, Oxycodone.

The “rapid detox” procedure, performed in a hospital, helps patients overcome their addictions while minimizing painful, physical withdrawals.

Alex Arias is the owner of Women’s Elite Yoga, which opens this spring at 7514 Girard Ave. (formerly Max Muscle nutrition shop).

Other transitions
SoCal Queen has opened at 1010 Torrey Pines Road, at Girard Avenue. The owner is Benthe Fahr. The women’s boutique focuses on the plus-sized market, featuring designs from Diane Kennedy, X-two, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans and Liolà Italian knits.

In Spring 2014, Women’s Elite Yoga (WEY) studio will open in the space formerly occupied by Max Muscle nutrition shop (7514 Girard Ave, unit 3, near Vons grocery).

Alex Arias, a former professional ballerina and native of Ecuador, is the owner. Arias moved to the United States at age 19. While in college, she started teaching step aerobics, Zumba, group exercise classes and spin. She was introduced to yoga three years ago, and previously taught at Hapa Yoga in San Diego.

The Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines hotel is undergoing a renovation, which includes new exterior paint, new guest room balconies and upgrades to its gym and pool. A remodel of guest rooms was recently completed.

Curtain call?
A longtime fixture in the community, Schroeder Piano Company at 5860 La Jolla Blvd., is for sale. Owner Peter Schroeder, whose family got started in the piano business in the late 1800s, is hoping to sell the business to someone who will keep it in Bird Rock. Inquires should be addressed to Robert McCullough at (619) 581-7112.

From noon to 6 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 21, Thumbprint Gallery artists will set up easels for a spontaneous “flash art” event in front of the piano store. People may come in and try out some of the instruments.

Related posts:

  1. New businesses ready spaces in the Village, including the long-vacant site of Jack’s La Jolla restaurant
  2. New Business Roundup: Variety of retailers plan to open in La Jolla Village
  3. La Jolla Merchants group elects new officers, preps for strategic planning session
  4. Cash-flow crisis: La Jolla Merchants Association seeks to sublet Information Center
  5. Cracking Up: La Jolla merchants group again admonishes shopkeepers to fix sidewalks

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Dec 18, 2013. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Business Roundup: More comings and goings in the Village of La Jolla”

  1. Bill

    And Jonathan’s Market was sold and will be turned into a theater. Also, the property where Tapenade is located (Fay Ave., across from Jonathan’s) was sold to the La Jolla Music Society.

    LJ Light — feel free to confirm.

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