Clothing store, health club slated for Saks buildin

A gaping hole in the La Jolla retail market could soon be filled if a new boutique moves into the big space vacated by Saks Fifth Avenue early last year.

Though the company has not confirmed it, it is believed that the high-end casual clothing store Anthropologie has signed a lease to fill the space at 1055 Wall St.

Deborah Marengo, president of Promote La Jolla, said the deal was done.

“The inside info we have is that it’s done,” she said. We’ve heard Anthropologie has signed on for the space.”

Anthropologie’s corporate office did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The building has sat vacant since Saks Fifth Avenue closed in February 2005. At the time, the upscale department store operated nearly 400 locations nationwide, and the La Jolla location was one of 11 in seven states the company identified as underperforming.

Marengo said Promote La Jolla, the business improvement district for the community, was not surprised that a search to find a new tenant took more than a year.

“We did expect it to take a while, just because the site is so large,” she said.

The former Saks building checks in at 47,500 square feet over two stories. It also has a subterranean parking garage with 283 parking spaces.

Marengo said a health club would occupy the floor above Anthropologie, as well as using a small part of the ground floor for their entry. Marengo said that Promote La Jolla was active in working to find a tenant for the space, and that the organization preferred to find a single tenant for the location.

“We worked hard to find a single user, we talked to a few different organizations,” she said. “But it’s just a lot of space.”

Bill Berkley, owner of Jack’s La Jolla restaurant, has an agreement with Saks to use the parking structure beneath the building for his valet parking service. He said the new tenants of the building would not impact that agreement and that he would still have more than enough spaces to run the valet parking operation.

Berkley identified the health club that would share the building as Equinox, which he described as a high-end health club. Equinox is based in New York and operates 14 locations in Manhattan, as well as one in Brooklyn and three on Long Island. It recently added locations in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles and in Irvine. It will soon open a location in Palo Alto.

Anthropologie has more than 80 locations in 23 states. In addition to apparel and accessories, the store also sells home decor items such as furniture, bedding and lighting. The apparel caters strictly to women.

Marengo said she was happy to have Anthropologie in La Jolla.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have such an upscale boutique that will bring new visitors to La Jolla,” she said.

Berkley also praised the quality of both of the new tenants of the former Saks building.

“I think they would be tremendous additions to the community,” he said.

“Anthropologie is a first-class store, and Equinox is a first-class health club. They will be a great fit for the community, and we welcome them.”

Before closing, Saks Fifth Avenue employed 80 people at the location.

Gaines Investment Trust on Girard Avenue has owned the former Saks building since 1992. Jeffery Gaines, the firm’s principal, said last year that Saks had several years left on their lease, but he did not return a call seeking comment on the new tenants.