La Costa Towne Center readies for overhaul

La Costa Towne Center readies for overhaul
The La Costa Towne Center retail and office space has had difficulty attracting and retaining tenants, particularly after the center’s anchor store, Vons, left the space. Photo by Rachel Stine

CARLSBAD — The owners of La Costa Towne Center, the half-empty retail and office center at the southeast corner of La Costa Avenue and El Camino Real, plan to redevelop the retail center to attract a new anchor tenant and add apartment residences to the property in the coming year or so. 

The two companies who own the center, Excel Trust and Gem, have laid out plans to tear down some of the existing buildings, rebuild new retail spaces along with approximately 60 residential apartments, and improve the aesthetics of the buildings that will remain, according to Excel Trust Senior Vice President of Development Bill Stone.

They recently initiated the process of gaining approval from the city, and expect to have the go-ahead on the redevelopment within eight to nine months, he said. Construction will begin shortly after the project is approved.

The La Costa Towne Center has struggled to attract and retain tenants for its retail and office spaces for years, particularly after the center’s anchor store, Vons, left several years ago. Its current tenants include dance and workout studios, an animal hospital and a few small restaurants.

The landlords plan to give the center a Tuscan look, and hope to attract new businesses and restaurants that will be “more towards the higher-end,” according to Stone.

He said that they hope to retain as many of their current tenants as possible throughout the redevelopment and do not intend to raise rents by much once the project is complete.

The future apartments will include studios, as well as one- and two-bedrooms that will be mostly medium and upper-medium income, he said.

Stone said that the landlords are considering a number of options for La Costa Towne Center’s new anchor tenant at this time, but it’s too early to reveal which stores are in the running.

Excel Trust and Gem are still negotiating with Vons to terminate the store’s lease early on the property.

But Stone added, “I think we’ll get (Vons’ lease) resolved before we actually start construction.”

A Vons is being built nearby as part of the new, upscale La Costa Town Square shopping center at the corner of La Costa Avenue and Rancho Santa Fe Road and is anticipated to open in summer 2014.

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