A New Look Is in Store for Chula Vista Shopping Mall

San Diego County Business Editor

This city will witness the start of a major redevelopment effort today when ground is broken on the $43-million renovation of the 25-year-old Chula Vista Center shopping mall.

The renovation, scheduled for completion in October, 1988, will add 70 shops and about 144,000 square feet of retail space. The center now contains 44 shops and 680,000 square feet. Anchor tenants will be the Broadway, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and J.C. Penney.

Officials of the city and the Homart Development Co. of Chicago, the mall developer managing the project, say they hope the renovation will reverse a five-year trend that has seen the center lose shoppers and tenants to competing South Bay malls.

The renovation will, in effect, make one shopping area out of two by closing a block of 5th Avenue between H and I streets, said Tom Gourguechon, project development director for Homart. In joining the separate parcels, the closure and renovation will create a 55-acre mall bounded by H and I streets, Broadway and Fig Street.

Homart, a subsidiary of Coldwell Banker, the real estate development unit of Sears, Roebuck, acquired 34 acres of the 55-acre site in April from seven sellers for about $19.5 million. Homart owns virtually all the mall stores and parking area except the Broadway and Sears stores. Homart persuaded Broadway and Sears to participate in the renovation.

Chula Vista Redevelopment Director Paul Desrochers said the renovation plans have already produced one benefit. The Broadway had threatened to downgrade its Chula Vista store to a second-tier retail operation before the renovation plans were announced. The Broadway now plans to maintain its profile in Chula Vista, he said.

According to Gourguechon, the project will generate $22 million in additional sales and property taxes for the city over 25 years.

City officials hope the benefits will extend beyond the mall boundaries and revitalize downtown Chula Vista as a commercial and retail hub, Desrochers said.

The city aided in the financing of the center by floating $11 million in certificates of participation, a kind of municipal bond issue. The city will invest more than $7 million of the proceeds from the bond sale in the renovation, Gourguechon said.

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