Author Archives: Tony M

US Memorial Day!

Memorial Day honors Americans who died serving their country. Instead of making it a somber reflection, people celebrate by enjoying the many freedoms that American servicemen and women perished protecting, such as freedom of speech, trial by jury, and protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

It is an excellent day for a backyard barbeque, a picnic or a chance to travel. All of these celebratory staples speak to the holiday’s true spirit.

Memorial Day Celebrations:

As on July 4th, more than 75% of American families plan to celebrate Memorial Day with a BBQ or picnic. It is a special time to spend with family and loved ones. Numerous sporting events also occur during this holiday. Since it’s a three-day weekend, many families go on short vacations visiting their relatives, camping in woods, partying on a beach or just heading to a National Park.

Memorial Day parades honoring those who served the battle are held in towns. The president holds a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., and a national moment of remembrance occurs at 3pm Eastern Time.

Thousands of parade goers will wave small American flags, sing the National Anthem, and salute the soldiers as they march by. Old veterans will stand in the back with a tear in their eyes, remembering the ones they left behind.

Memorial Day also marks the unofficial first day of summer. Men and women wear their best summer whites. The smell of barbecue fills the air, as red, white, and blue drinks and foods are arranged on picnic tables. Fresh vegetables are grilled and hot dogs are a dime a dozen.

Memorial Day Party Theme Tips:

Enhance your Memorial Day celebration with these themes:

  • Kick off your Memorial Day BBQ with red, white and blue homemade party favors.
  • Instantly transform your backyard space into a festive scene by stringing dollar store streamers overhead. Your guests will love the airy, whimsical vibe. You can also use string lights to add some sparkle at twilight!
  • Set your picnic table with red place mats and blue and white tableware or you can also use dollar store streamers to make an incredibly cute tabletop design which goes apt with the festive mood!
  • Add festive fresh floral centerpieces.
  • Wrap your candles and party cups and make them patriotic.
  • Red, white and blue Popsicle or Cocktails blends perfectly with the patriotic spirit.

On this day show your American pride by waving flags, thanking those who have served, and remembering those who never made it home.

Taste For The Space Competitor Videos

Eastridge’s Taste For The Space is only a few days away and the competitors are getting ready to show San Jose their signature dish and why their taste should win the space. Before you head off to the competition take some time to get to know a few of the food trucks, local restaurateurs and chefs who are competing in the competition.








Taste For The Space @ Eastridge Center on May 13, 2017

Eastridge Center in San Jose is getting some attention in the food scene this coming weekend on May 13, 2017 with a culinary competition to determine who will win an eatery space inside the mall.

Entries from local food trucks and restaurateurs were collected in March and finalists were announced on April 10. The fourteen finalists will convene on May 13 to show off their signature dishes to event attendees. Tickets for admission (they were free) are no longer available, but if you managed to snag a ticket, make sure to bring your appetite so you can try each dish in the competition. Guests will have a chance to influence the outcome of the competition by voting for their favorite dish. See the full list of finalists on the HERE. The winner will be announced on May 19.

The winner of the competition will receive a blank canvas dining eatery space with a fully-equipped kitchen and digital signage, a $50,000 investment, and six months of free rent! That’s a pretty big deal for a first-time brick and mortar owner or small business looking to expand its presence.

I met with Ed of Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ last week and got a sneak peek of his signature dishes — the smoked tri-tip and beef brisket sliders. Don’t these look mouthwatering? They’re the perfect bite!

Smoked tri-tip slider with housemade au jus & beef brisket slider

Beef brisket slider

While at the event, make sure to take a walk around on the sides of the mall stretching from the 24 Hour Fitness to Sears; there’s also a mural on the AMC theater. The new murals by local artists are worth a look and are perfect for a photo shoot. I love that the mall is now a bit more vibrant and showcases local talent. Check out the short film on the murals on Youtube.

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Eastridge Center in San Jose Completes World’s Largest Outdoor Murals on a Shopping Center

First-of-its-Kind, 20,000 Square Foot Public Art Installation Features Four Curated California Muralists

San Jose, Calif. (May 4, 2017) – Pacific Retail Capital Partners has completed the world’s largest collection of outdoor murals on a shopping center, and the only public art project of its kind at Eastridge, in San Jose. The 20,000 square feet of murals features four carefully curated California artists – CYRCLE, Brendan Monroe, Lila Gemellos and Aaron De La Cruz.

“The opportunity to partner with four talented muralists to create an unparalleled public art series is very special, says Najla Kayyem, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Pacific Retail Capital Partners, parent to the San Jose Center. “Immediately the energy and excitement around Eastridge has changed and we’re reminded how art can transform perceptions, fuel urban revitalization and become an economic stimulus.”

Gensler, a global architectural, design and planning firm, came up with the concept to reimagine previously blank exterior brick, stucco and tiled walls around the center with the expansive murals as well as nearly 16,000 square feet of super graphics to transform more than 36,000 square feet of Eastridge’s exteriors facade.

“Most enclosed malls are the ultimate expression of the blank wall,” says Annmarie Brintnall, Retail Centers Practice Area Leader and Principal at Gensler. “The idea was to transform the lifeless façades of Eastridge into a celebrated collection of public art for everyone in the community to enjoy”.

All four muralists are California based, an important component when creating an art installation designed to reflect and celebrate the best of San Jose. Their work ranges from the geometric and colorful, to creative story telling, and has attracted positive attention from the community while adding vibrancy and excitement to a previously uninteresting façade.

“We carefully selected burgeoning artists that could create timeless pieces that offer new perspective each time they’re viewed,” explained Aaron Lloyd Barr, Senior Agent at B&A in New York that curated two of the artists. “While each artist has a distinct style and approach to transforming the space, together they create a cohesive, very modern and approachable art installation that vibrantly flows across a previously non-descript, industrialized canvas.”

Featured Artists

CYRCLE is a two-man collective comprised of David Leavitt (Davey Detail) and David Torres (Rabi) – both born in L.A. Their works can be seen all over the world and are in public and private collections including that of Shepard Fairey, Ari Emanuel, Sean Combs, and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“CYRCLE loves layering and colors and half-tone patterns, mixing monotone with bright colors that come alive on Eastridge Center’s brick walls utlizing sprayers and spray paint on a 70-foot by 100-foot canvas,” explains Barr.

Brendan Monroe was born in Santa Barbara and studied at Art Center in Pasadena. A sculptor and painter, Brendan’s work is available in California, at Galerie L.J. in Paris, and has been exhibited in Asia, Europe and North America.

“Brendan used brushes for his piece at Eastridge Center to create something very distinct, black and white, with an almost techy feel,” Kayyem explained.

Lila Gemellos has been painting across the Silicon Valley for several years and has been an artist since age five. She brings her strong San Jose roots and passion to her artwork through her visual narratives.
Gemmellos utilized paint sprayers and spray paint cans to transform two sections of exterior wall and share a colorful story.

Aaron De La Cruz is based in San Francisco, CA. His work, though minimal and direct at first, tends to overcome barriers of separation and freely steps in and out of the realms of painting and design.
“De La Cruz filled the blank Eastridge Center walls in a way no one else could, with a hand-painted black and white design utilizing scissor lifts and brushes,” explained Barr.

The groundbreaking murals are part of a major redevelopment occurring at Eastridge including interior and exterior design, new exterior entrance enhancements – including the additional 16,000 square feet of super graphics through Gensler – installation of a 30-foot interior digital wall, the four large-scale exterior artist murals and other community-centric art projects that pay homage to the best of San Jose. Later this spring, local children will be invited to create an imaginative art installation of hand painted tiles that will become part of the permanent redesign.

“The real beauty of their work is how it has been embraced by such a variety of people that live in this community,” added Anthony Campo, Eastridge’s Marketing Manager. “Regardless of age or level of art education, these pieces create a powerful response in everyone that has experienced them by bringing the best of San Jose together and transforming people’s perceptions of Eastridge and our larger community.”

To view videos of the art installation visit or through social media at:
Twitter: @EastridgeCenter

About Eastridge

Owned and operated by Pacific Retail Capital Partners, Eastridge is Silicon Valley’s second largest retail destination with 1.4 million square feet of abundant shopping, dining and entertainment. 2017 marks a milestone as the property undergoes redevelopment to re-invent Eastridge Center and embrace the best San Jose has to offer. Featuring Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, Round 1 Bowling and Amusement, Barnes & Noble, Red Robin, and Chili’s, the well-known San Jose center showcases 150 stores, an impressive 15-screen AMC IMAX Theatre, 24 Hour Fitness, H&M, Hollister Co., Tilly’s, Victoria’s Secret, crazy 8, Forever 21, a spacious eatery and multiple restaurants. The Grand Center Court offers two levels of shopping with superior store accessibility and visibility in San Jose’s Evergreen neighborhood. For more information, visit

The Eastridge Murals Celebrates Art and Community


The Eastridge Murals aim to celebrate the best of San Jose through art, culture and community. A call for local artists was announced earlier this year for a chance to have their art painted on the exterior of Eastridge Center. Four artists were chosen each with their own artistic style and story. Eastridge welcomed Aaron De La Cruz, Brendan Monroe, Lila Gemellos and Cyrcle to shape the look of the Eastridge Murals. The goal of The Mural Project is to create a piece of public art for an outdoor environment that reflects the spirit of the Bay Area and engages our community.

The Eastridge Murals kicked off on March 13th with Artist, Aaron De La Cruz. His mural took over 59 hours over a span of seven days. As a way to bring our community into the Mural Project, De La Cruz partnered with Empire Seven Studios with an art scavenger hunt. Signed prints were hidden all over Eastridge while Empire Seven Studios provided clues on their Instagram.



Mural by Cyrcle

Not only has the Eastridge Murals attracted local residents, but has also created a buzz on a global scale. The mural project garnered thousands of views on social media. Brendan Monroe’s video feature by Chop Em Down Films was noticed by global artist network, Pow! Wow! Hawaii creating over 7,000 views. We hope to reach out to our communities as we embrace art, culture and the next generation retail experience.


Mural by Aaron De La Cruz

The murals are a perfect photo op for visitors and an opportunity for people to meet the artists. Lila Gemellos colorful mural “Heart of Silicon Valley” was visited by many who took selfies with Lila, prom photos, family photos and other creative shots from our visitors. One of the last murals to be completed is by Cyrcle which was close to 20,000 sq feet of space. From blank walls to work of arts, these artists did an amazing job at capturing San Jose’s spirit.


Mural by Lila Gemellos


Mural by Brendan Monroe


The Eastridge Murals are just the start of the redevelopment at the center as we continue to celebrate  San Jose. We would like to thank California Arts Council for their support, Chop Em Down Films for documenting the Mural Project, Pacific Retail and Gensler for making the vision of this project come to life.

Follow Eastridge and the artists on Instagram.

  • Eastridge @eastridgecenter
  • Aaron De La Cruz @aarondelacruz
  • Brendan Monroe @brendantheblob
  • Lila Gemellos @gemellosmurals
  • Cyrcle @cyrcle

Want to share your awesome photos of the murals? Hashtag #eastridgemurals We’d love to see them!

To see more video, check out the Eastridge YouTube Channel HERE

Butcher, baker, business maker: Why food halls are popping up all over Silicon Valley

More than a spot to find dining  options, food halls are hot. But are they a fad, a trend or an evolution of traditional retail? Experts say they’re a little of everything.

When it comes to traffic and revenue, many traditional retailers are limping along compared to online giants like Amazon, but there’s one sector of brick-and-mortar retail that real estate experts say has snuck ahead and isn’t slowing down: food halls.

“This is the hottest thing in retail – period,” said Garrick Brown, vice president of retail research at Cushman & Wakefield.

But that endorsement comes with a caveat: Despite the concept’s popularity, it’s not easy to make a successful food hall,  Brown said.

The trend, which shows no  signs of winding down in the coming years, comes with unique considerations for landlords looking to jump on  the bandwagon. Among them, short-term leases and subleases, added build-out costs, finding the magical tenant mix and courting investors for a new – and therefore potentially riskier – type of retail.

Even so, food halls, which have traditionally popped up in large, superdense metropolises such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, are starting to expand to smaller cities across the country, including those in Silicon Valley.

Food halls are still evolving, but the ones emerging today lean hard on  chef-inspired concepts and fast- casual dining, as opposed to fast food, which had previously dominated retail centers. Landlords can opt to rent individual spaces on  a plug-and-play basis, or lease the whole space to an operator with their own themed food hall vision, like Eataly, an N.Y.C.-based, Italian-themed food hall and market.

San Jose alone has four standalone food hall concepts in various stages of development.

Two local malls — Eastridge Shopping Center and Westfield Valley Fair — have announced they will revamp their traditional food courts to attract more local and chef-inspired fare, a move many malls around the country are also making, according to Cushman & Wakefield data.

At Eastridge, the food court update comes with a multimillion-dollar effort to improve the entire shopping center. Later this year, property owner Pacific Retail Capital Partners will host a contest to choose a local food concept to fill a space in the mall  for free.

It’s the first step in a long-term vision for the mall,  said Najla Kayyem, vice president of marketing for Pacific Retail.

“I don’t think it is a trend — I think it is an evolution,” she said, referring to the food court upgrades. “Retail is constantly evolving itself.”

Other cities in the Valley are also starting to get attention from developers, including Santa Cruz, where a new food hall concept is set to open next month.

Food halls are evolving with traditional retail as brick-and-mortar stores try to find a foothold in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Concepts with diverse, fast-casual offerings aren’t just popping up in retail centers, but also office parks and as commercial anchors underneath apartment projects, Brown said.

Google’s planned 595,000-square-foot Mountain View campus will have a retail component with local chef-inspired restaurants on  the ground level, company representatives told the Mountain View City Council earlier this month. City leaders have told Google they’d like to see its on-site offerings also be open to the public.

The trend is moving so fast that it has become a disruptor in traditional retail. Last year, for the first time ever, the amount that Americans spent on  eating out surpassed what they spent at the grocery store, according to a recent Cushman & Wakefield report.

In the first two quarters of 2016, the real estate firm tallied more than $388 billion spent on  grocery store food expenses nationwide, but more than $393 billion spent on  food away from home in that timeframe.

Brown has tracked food hall expansion across the U.S. and in a report released in December, he estimated that by the end of 2019 the number of food-centric retail centers in America would double.

Only  a few months later, he’s rethinking his estimates.

“Already, all my projections are way  too conservative and way  too low.  … It’s probably more like 2018,” he said in a late-February interview. “Everyone is jumping on  it; they see the opportunity.”

That opportunity has been spurred by the rise of foodie culture and millennials who are ditching fast food in favor of chef-inspired concepts and farm-to-fork restaurants.

The right retail mix

As a group, those consumers are looking not just for good food, but a place that has a comfortable, hip

space and a diverse mix of food options. That is the biggest challenge to opening a new food hall,  Brown said.

“Now  that [food halls have] become hot, I’m seeing people rush to market with new plans and many of them are nailing it,” he said. “But some don’t get it; it’s not just about plugging in a bunch of people. You have to create real experience.”

That’s become an easier task as the food hall trend grows.

In 2010, San Pedro Square Market officially opened in San Jose. It was an early adopter of the trend in the city and John McEnery, the project’s developer and owner, said finding investors and tenants was a challenge.

“It was a foreign concept,” he said in an interview. “We lost a lot of great users because they just didn’t believe in what we were putting forth – in the concept.”

But the climate has changed. Today, McEnery and other food hall developers in the area can be choosy about their tenants.

McEnery is working on  opening a second food hall,  called Abbott Square Market, in Santa Cruz. That

8,500-square-foot shop with a 10,000-square-foot patio will open sometime in May and has nine vendors locked in, making it one concept short of being completely leased, he said.

The SoFA Market at 387  S. First St. in San Jose has been open for more than a year, but recently filled its last two leases, said David Ma, who manages the hall.

In the meantime, the two newest tenants are Toasted, Craft Sandwiches, and Pizzetta 408, which just opened. The group has been particular about its vendors, Ma said.

“You want a mix,  so a pizza place and a sandwich place,” he said. “But certainly not just any  pizza or sandwich place.”

The SoFA Market is creating a space and looking for tenants that will mesh well with its arts-district appeal and embrace events with artists, performers and writers.

That choosiness has paid off, because with each new restaurant opening, foot traffic has grown by around 20 percent, Ma said.

San Jose’s newest food hall concept, called The Forager at 420 S. First St., opened in early March with just a coffee shop, bar area and one kitchen.

The Forager aims to be an incubator for restaurants and is currently curating its tenant mix,  which the group hopes will complement the early 1900s building’s exposed brick, lofted ceilings and skylights.

Creating a successful food hall “does have to do with what chefs we are bringing in, but more importantly I think it is creating an ambiance,” Jones said. “Honestly, 90 percent of what makes that place cool right now is the bones of the building.”

The ‘wild west’ of leasing

Finding tenants has gotten easier, but investors can still be standoffish, said Cushman & Wakefield’s Brown, though he expects that to change as more food halls open.

“If there is anything that will slow development, it is that private investors … aren’t sure what to make of it yet,” he said.” It’s just coming on  their radar.”

For McEnery’s part, having a successful food hall has helped with his newest effort at 725 Front St. in Santa Cruz.

“Once you  have proof of concept … they can go down there and see how its running, they can talk to the vendors,” he said. “That helps tremendously.”

But on  paper, he admits that food halls don’t pencil out. At San Pedro Square Market, less than half  of the building space is leaseable and the rest is common area, making the lease rate per square foot seem low.

So how do food halls make a profit?

SoFA Market combats that issue in part by charging tenants for some of the space directly outside of their nook – the space the shops’ customers will use while waiting in line to order, for instance.

But that’s just one option for making the per-square-foot lease rate work  out. All four food halls in San Jose handle leasing slightly differently, which seems par for the course, according to Brown.

“It’s the wild, wild west,” he said.

Most food halls work  in short-term leases and tend to take a percentage of the profits from the restaurants, which is common in retail.

Essentially, if the food hall attracts visitors and the restaurants do well, so does the property owner. But the model relies heavily on  attracting a lot of foot traffic to keep the whole thing running.

The Forager is a unique example because of its goal as an incubator. Instead of charging per square foot, like many food halls, Jones said the group plans to only  take a percentage of each company’s revenue.

But most food halls can charge more than the average rent for the area because it offers a smaller space and a built-in kitchen compared to if a restaurateur struck out on  their own, Brown said. That means restaurateurs may pay more per square foot, but less overall than if they rented and outfitted their own brick-and-mortar site, Cushman & Wakefield’s report shows.

McEnery said he’s been able to charge a little more per square foot than traditional retail space, in addition to the profits-sharing.

In return, the restaurants get close to a million people passing by their counters during a good year, he said.

At the SoFA Market, where tenants are also charged for the space directly outside their counter, rents are roughly in line with other retail options, Ma said. The food hall also takes a portion of the revenue each concept brings in.

The perks

Despite the many unknowns, challenges and risks around food halls, it can still be a fruitful business model.

Though managing a larger number of tenants can take up more resources and time, it also means that if one concept fails or moves away, landlords aren’t stuck with an empty building to fill, McEnery said. “I don’t think you  feel the impact [as much] when one business doesn’t make it,” he said.

Plus, if Silicon Valley food halls – each fully leased or with a list of interested restaurateurs – are any indication, there’s no  shortage of restaurant concepts looking for a way  to strike out in small, visible spaces when an opening does come up.

San Jose in particular has plenty of room for growth, but not enough space, said The Forager’s Jones. Finally,  and perhaps most importantly, the food hall trend is still going strong, Brown said.

“Will we eventually get to a point where we’ve done this to death? Yes, we will,” he said. “But we aren’t even close right now.”


Eastridge Center Opens Call for Local Artists

Mural Project Engages Silicon Valley Creatives

JANUARY 25, 2017 – SAN JOSE, CA – Silicon Valley’s second largest retail destination, Eastridge Center, announced today it is opening a call for local artists to submit design work for a mural art competition at the property.

The center will undergo a redevelopment to create a cultural shopping destination hub and catalyst for public art in a private space. This begins with a public mural project as a way of demonstrating commitment to urban renewal and growth in San Jose’s Evergreen neighborhood. “By establishing a visual public presence, we hope that the community will join us in investing in the city’s future,” says Eastridge marketing director Anthony Campo. Eastridge is requesting artist proposals for a painted mural to be installed along the exterior of the center on existing blank, brick or stucco walls. The project budget is not to exceed $8.60 per square foot for an artist or team of collaborative artists. The budget should include the artist(s) fee, supplies, travel-related expenses, and other associated costs including insurance.

Any artist or team of artists interested in creating a two-dimensional mural, to be completed in Spring 2017, should apply by the deadline of February 15. “One of the goals of this mural project is to engage our local artist community through active participation, meet-the-artist opportunities and demonstrations,” says Mr. Campo. Interested parties may find relevant information and application process detail including project timeline at


Original Article

Eastridge Center Opens Call for Local Artists

Art Mural Projects at Eastridge For Northern CA artists

Eastridge is dedicated to fostering community collaborations and partnerships. The shopping center will undergo a redevelopment to create a cultural shopping destination hub and catalyst for public art in a private space. We have begun a public mural project as a way of demonstrating our commitment to urban renewal and growth in our neighborhood. By establishing a visual public presence, we hope that the community will join us in investing in the city’s future. Eastridge is requesting artist proposals for a painted mural to be installed along the exterior of the shopping center on existing blank, brick or stucco walls.

We believe the series of spaces will provide a vibrant and eclectic, local community gathering space and a unique urban open space experience.

Deadline: 02-15-2017
Eastridge Center
San Jose, CA

Contact: Anthony Campo
Phone: (408) 238-3600


6 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy


February is American Heart Month! Eastridge is honored to have partnered with American Heart Association for the Go Red Event that happened earlier this month. The event was successful! The Go Red event included health care booths, check-ups and a Zumba-Thon! Preventative care for our health is important. We continue to spread the word by providing beneficial tips from American Heart Association. Here are 6 ways to keep your heart healthy.

Exercise to Prevent Heart Disease

  1. Consistent Exercise (and make it fun!)

(Via Go Red for Exercise to Present Heart Disease)

Exercising at least 30 minutes a day can help control your weight in turn, decreasing your risk of heart disease. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring! Find an exercise that gets you going. Don’t like treadmills at the gym? Mix it up and try out a fitness class like U-JAM or Zumba. During our Go Red Event at Eastridge Center, event-goers participated in the Zumbathon. They burn off calories in a fun and engaging way!

  1. Manage Stress Levels

(Via Go Red For Women Nancy Brown: Tips to Relax, Renew, Recharge )

The effects of chronic stress can increase heart rate and blood pressure which may cause damage to artery walls. Find time to relax and release any stress you have in your life. Make time for friends and family or by doing a hobby you enjoy. If you have too much on your plate, make a to-do list and conquer each task one at a time.

  1. Get enough sleep

(Via Go Red For Women Sleep and Heart Disease)

Sleep deprivation can increase high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. American Heart Association recommends people receive at least 6-7 hours of sleep it can vary for each person. Good sleep helps maintain a good metabolism, weight loss and lessen stress levels. Get a good night’s sleep by exercising, avoiding caffeine and creating a relaxation routine before bed.


  1. Be aware of your sodium intake

(Via Go Red For Women Six Common Salty Foods)

A high sodium diet can increase the risk of heart disease by elevating blood pressure. Up to 1,500 milligrams of sodium is the recommended intake daily. Processed foods and dining out at restaurants more can add up to a high sodium diet. Salty foods can be found in breads, cured meats, soups, pizza and sandwiches. Try limiting these foods and eat more fresh home cooked meals.


5. Eat Healthy Fats

(Via Go Red For Women Good Fat Tips)


Not all fats are bad for you! Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated that can raise good HDL cholesterol levels and won’t raise bad LDL cholesterol levels. These good fats can be found in avocados, almonds, peanuts, olive and fish such as salmon or mackerel. Keep nuts as a healthy snack in between meals. These healthy fats are a good choice, but make sure to portion control since it can be high in calories.

Screening for Heart Disease

Get Routine Check-Ups

(Via Go Red For Women Why You Should Get Routine Checkups)

It is important to visit the doctor for routine check-ups to help manage and screen risk factors for heart disease. Doctors can go over your medical history and do tests for weight and BMI waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood glucose. Preventative care is the best way to start for the health of your heart.

Exclusive: San Jose Eastridge Shopping Center to get multi million dollar revamp, updated food court and new retailers.


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:

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