March 1, 2017 – San Jose’s Eastridge Shopping Center is set to get a  makeover starting this month, including an updated food court, an indoor orchard, added digital displays and two new family lounges.

The upgrade is aimed at creating “a collection of experiences,” when it is completed this fall, said Najla Kayyem, vice president of marketing for Pacific Retail Capital Partners, which owns the property.

“Retail is constantly evolving itself,” Kayyem said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve got to look at it from a holistic approach and see what the community needs and then fill those gaps with different types of programs.”

More retailers are embracing that outlook as traditional brick-and-mortar stores struggle to compete with online retail giants like Amazon. The most successful shopping centers are trying to create an experience for shoppers that can’t be easily duplicated online, primarily by adding more food, drinks and entertainment, Garrick Brown, VP of retail research at Cushman & Wakefield, said in an interview earlier this month.

“The big picture transition for malls and shopping centers in general is really starting to understand whatexperiential retail really is and connecting the consumers in a better way,” he said.

Just over a year ago, Pacific Retail Capital Partners purchased the two-story shopping center for $225 million. At the time, the El Segundo, California-based operator announced it would invest $15 million more into fixing up the mall.

They also announced early last year that they’d secured a lease with Swedish clothing retailer H&M, which opened a 24,000-square-foot store in January. Later this year, Kay Jewelers will also move into Eastridge.

Kayyem declined to confirm what the final cost of the updates will be, but did say it would be a multimillion-dollar effort. San Francisco-based Gensler Architects is designing the project.

The last major update for the shopping center came in 2007, when the previous owner, General Growth Properties, completed a $140 million renovation and expansion. Since then, Pacific Retail, which has 10 shopping centers in its portfolio, has invested in marketing in multiple languages and worked on curating more activities in the mall’s center court. That has consistently driven foot traffic up by single-digit increases and bumped up sales for retailers, Kayyem said.

“Unlike some of the other assets that we’ve got in the portfolio, or that we’re seeing around the country, Eastridge retail is very strong,” she said. Even with the strong foot traffic, Pacific Retail still wanted to update the mall to “embrace the rich culture and history of San Jose,” Kayyem said.

New art installations will be popping up inside and outside of the shopping center in the coming months and some exterior walls will be repainted with murals, including work by San Jose-based artist Lila Gemellos.
Interactive play areas and two new family lounges will be added. Restrooms will be updated and a 30-foot digital wall will be installed on the elevator shaft in the center of the mall, along with charging stations and digital, interactive directories around the center.

Pacific Retail will also revamp the mall’s current food court and aim to attract more local concepts – a move that malls around the country are embracing. In May, Pacific Retail will double down on its food revamp by hosting a competition called Taste for the Space. Community members will vote on a winner to take over a turnkey kitchen space in the revamped mall, plus a $50,000 cash prize. In all, the value of those prizes comes to about $140,000, Kayyem said.

“What better way to garner some attention, but also generate some leads for our food establishments in the market … than to host a competition,” she said. In the coming weeks, Pacific Retail will release more information about the contest, which is set to take place primarily during an event May 13.

The news of the Eastridge update comes as other developers are also eyeing the Evergreen neighborhood and San Jose’s east side. Eastridge is situated on 113 acres just north of an empty 81-acre site that has been approved for 250 residential units, 344,00 square feet of retail and more than 17 acres of public parkland.

The Arcadia Cos. and Hunter Properties is creating a development plan for the site now, said Nanci Klein, San Jose’s assistant director of economic development. Other office projects and single-family home investments have also been in the works recently, she added.

But in the meantime, having the upgrade at Eastridge may help set the stage, add amenities and draw visitors for the other development set to happen in the area, Klein said.
“This will provide more of a reason to stay closer,” she said. “It will be a great reason for neighbors to be meeting neighbors, as well as keeping more sales tax here in San Jose from folks who might otherwise be going outside the area.”
Janice Bitters

From the Silicon Valley Business Journal:
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/03/01/san-jose-eastridge-shopping-centerrenovation-food.html