Cen­tury Cen­ter own­ers cam­paign to woo Trader Joe’s to east Modesto

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Local - BY MARIJKE ROW­LAND mrow­[email protected]­bee.com Marijke Row­land: 209-578-2284, @mar­i­jkerow­land

The new own­ers of Cen­tury Cen­ter would love to see a Trader Joe’s come into the east Modesto shop­ping com­plex. And they’re bet­ting a lot of you do, too.

So they’ve gone as far as erect­ing signs in front of the shop­ping cen­ter on Oakdale Road ask­ing the pub­lic to con­tact Trader Joe’s about open­ing at the site. For decades the com­plex was an­chored by Gottschalks depart­ment store and Ra­ley’s su­per­mar­ket be­fore their de­par­tures sev­eral years ago. But since then it has strug­gled with va­can­cies.

Ra­ley’s, which moved out in 2012 af­ter open­ing its larger lo­ca­tion in Vil­lage One, fi­nally re­lin­quished the lease it had in the com­plex at the end of 2018. Be­fore that it had been pay­ing for the va­cant space and main­tain­ing its non­com­pete clause bar­ring other gro­cery stores from mov­ing into the cen­ter.

But now with that re­stric­tion lifted, the cen­ter’s new own­ers have big plans to both ren­o­vate and at­tract new re­tail­ers. That in­cludes woo­ing Trader Joe’s, which al­ready has a lo­ca­tion in north­west Modesto near Vin­tage Faire Mall.

Other planned im­prove­ments in­clude ma­jor fa­cade work to mod­ern­ize the look and feel of the shop­ping com­plex, which de­buted in 1979. Long­time ten­ants Round Ta­ble Pizza and Torii Ja­panese Steak­house will un­dergo up­dat­ing and ma­jor ren­o­va­tions. The cen­ter own­ers will also com­pletely re­con­di­tion the park­ing lot and up­grade to LED light­ing.

New York-based com­mer­cial real es­tate firm Somera Road, Inc. and lo­cal in­vest­ing group Graceada Part­ners, LLC. pur­chased the 214,389square-foot re­tail cen­ter in Novem­ber for $12.25 mil­lion. Al­ready they have three new ten­ants lined up to move in: Satel­lite Health­care, Golden Val­ley Health­care and Ta­que­ria El Maguey.

Ryan Swehla, who leads the Cen­tral Val­ley real es­tate in­vest­ment group Graceada Part­ners along with fel­low NAI Bench­mark prin­ci­pal Joe Mu­ra­tore, said the new ten­ants plus up­dates should help to re­turn the cen­ter to its sta­tus as a re­tail epi­cen­ter for east Modesto. They hope that will in­clude Trader Joe’s, and it’s not all just wish­ful think­ing. He said they’ve been in con­tact with Trader Joe’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives and be­gun dis­cus­sions.

“We are tak­ing a very hands-on ap­proach to re­cruit­ing them to the cen­ter. We posted the signs to gen­er­ate com­mu­nity feed­back to Trader Joe’s ex­press­ing the strong de­mand that we know ex­ists. We are in early dis­cus­sions with them al­though there is by no means cer­tainty around their in­ter­est in lo­cat­ing there. But we know Trader Joe’s lis­tens to their cus­tomers,” Swehla said.

The signs, posted be­fore the hol­i­days, read, “Do you want to see Trader Joe’s here? If so, please let them know: www.trader joes.com/con­tact-us/ lo­ca­tion-re­quest.” The large white plac­ards, which use the Trader Joe’s red com­pany logo, are posted at the north and south ends of the cen­ter along Oakdale Road.

Trader Joe’s opened its Dale Road in 1993, and it re­mains a pop­u­lar and busy shop­ping draw. Ask any­one who has stood in line at the Modesto TJ’s on any given Sun­day and you’ll un­der­stand the de­sire for an­other lo­ca­tion in the city.

For decades Cen­tury Cen­ter, on the op­po­site side of town, had one of the few large gro­cery stores on the east side with Ra­ley’s, at­tract­ing res­i­dents from the pop­u­lous nearby neigh­bor­hoods. The com­plex cur­rently has 10 restau­rants, rang­ing from long-run­ning spots like Ridg­way’s and the Ice Cream Co. to Jamba Juice and Pizza Hut. The new ta­que­ria will move into space next to Vi­sion First Op­tom­e­try. The two health­care cen­ters will move into space near the back of the com­plex.

Graceada Part­ners and Somera Road rep­re­sen­ta­tives said they’re ex­cited about the cen­ter’s fu­ture.

“With these new ten­ants and up­dates, Cen­tury Cen­ter is quickly be­com­ing the mixed use, life­style cen­ter that we en­vi­sioned when pur­chas­ing the prop­erty,” Swehla said. “Over­all we are ex­cited for the re­ju­ve­na­tion of this once bustling re­tail epi­cen­ter of east Modesto.”

MARIJKE ROW­LAND mrow­[email protected]­bee.com

Signs ask­ing the pub­lic to con­tact Trader Joe’s are posted at the cor­ners of Cen­tury Cen­ter in Modesto. “We are tak­ing a very hands-on ap­proach to re­cruit­ing them to the cen­ter,” said Ryan Swehla, of Graceada Part­ners.

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