Calif.'s Bay Area sees new retail centers planned

Shopping center planned in Dublin, Calif., names first tenant


Mar. 8--Despite the economy's sour turn, the developer of a posh new shopping center in Dublin says the project is moving forward.

The Green at Park Place, on 27 acres at Interstate 580 and Hacienda Drive, is expected to open in early 2010. The shopping center's developer, Danville-based Blake Hunt Ventures, is continuing work on the center's layout.

The organic grocery Whole Foods has announced plans to set up in the center. No other major tenants have been announced, but Blake Hunt and city officials describe the pedestrian-friendly project as similar to Santana Row in San Jose.

Mayor Janet Lockhart said that given the center's location near BART and the freeway, and its upscale shopping, it should have a good regional draw.

Jerry Hunt of Blake Hunt Ventures, is also "optimistic."

At a study session this week with Dublin planning commissioners and City Council members, Blake Hunt team members talked about the center as a place where people will be able to hang out, bring their families and spend the day.

The center will have some other upcoming major commercial projects to compete with, all that seem to be moving forward.

In San Ramon, Sunset Development has won approval for a retail/office/residential/civic center at Bollinger Canyon Road and Camino Ramon plans to host some high-end retail businesses and an independent movie theater, among other components. That center has a target opening of Christmas 2010.

Livermore has a 42-acre outlet mall,

with about 420,000 square feet of retail space near El Charro Road, that is expected to begin construction in 2009.

"We realize all of our neighbors have competing projects, but you know what, that is what makes (the) region strong," said Mayor Lockhart.

There is a "pent-up demand" with the growth in San Ramon's Dougherty Valley and in East Dublin, said Toby Brink, president of the Tri-Valley Business Council. Right now, residents shop at Stoneridge Mall, in Walnut Creek and San Francisco.

Because consumer spending is down, if these shopping centers were all opening tomorrow, Brinks said, there could be problems.

"But by the time these projects will break ground, by that time we should have weathered the storm of an economic downturn," Brink said.