2014 brings a slew of new shops and restaurants.
A whopping 35,000 square feet of shops, restaurants, and offices in downtown Danville. A 146-unit apartment complex with ground-floor retail in Walnut Creek. A shopping center wooing Michelin-quality restaurants rising up in Dublin. It seems that just about everywhere you look these days, cranes are swooping, and workers in hard hats are swarming.
It’s not your imagination: It really is boom time in the East Bay. Cynthia Kroll, chief economic expert at the Association of Bay Area Governments, says the East Bay is at last experiencing the effects of a robust regional economic recovery first seen in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which is rippling out to the suburbs.
Along with that recovery comes new or long-stalled projects, each bringing shops and restaurants to compete for our suddenly more disposable incomes. And many are breaking away from the typical shopping center mold, looking to offer unique specialty concepts designed to appeal to choosier, higher-end customers.
So what’s coming? That’s a good question. Diablo hit the streets to give you the latest scoop on the biggest projects, with the hottest shops and restaurants, coming up in the new year.
Perhaps no single project in Contra Costa has a larger impact on retail and restaurants than Walnut Creek’s signature shopping district. The city is on the cusp of signing off on Broadway Plaza’s 20-year redevelopment makeover plan. If approved (which could happen before the end of 2013), the plan calls for 200,000 square feet of retail space to be demolished and rebuilt, plus the addition of an extra 300,000 square feet, and considerably more parking, in large multilevel lots.
What’s coming: This is a major, major project, and the current plans call for about 40 existing shops, in the “back 40” lot between Macy’s and Nordstrom, to be closed during construction. Who will return has yet to be determined. But rest assured, developers are looking to add the type of splashy, name—brand tenants that have made Broadway Plaza the destination district for shopping in the East Bay.
Reps are tight-lipped on specifics, but they do say to expect more dining options—and not to expect another big anchor tenant along the lines of Neiman Marcus.
When: If plans are approved soon, construction could start in February.
There’s also plenty happening in Walnut Creek’s historic downtown area, including two ambitious projects designed to offer more upscale shopping and dining experiences.
What’s coming: 1500 Mt. Diablo Boulevard.
As the man behind Walnut Creek’s Sasa and the Va de Vi–Tiffany & Co.–Apple project, local developer Brian Hirahara has a reputation for small-scale projects of the highest quality.
Hirahara’s latest endeavor is a three-story development kitty-corner to Neiman Marcus on Mt. Diablo Boulevard, with a café and name-brand retailer on the bottom. It has the potential to be the most spectacular yet. It’s the restaurant component that takes this project beyond the ordinary: Plans call for a rooftop dining area complete with living garden and one-of-a-kind views of the city. No official announcements have been made, but Hirahara is talking with well-known San Francisco–based restaurant people, so expect something big.
When: End of 2014.
What’s coming: Davidson & Licht.
Davidson & Licht is one of the tenants getting displaced by the Broadway Plaza redevelopment. But owner Jon Licht has chosen to see it as an opportunity—“doubling down,” as he calls it—on a new project set for North Main Street. His plans feature two stories of chic, steel-and-glass design that includes small boutique spaces devoted to Rolex and Tudor watches, as well as rare American and Italian jewelry designers such as Todd Reed and Adolfo Courrier. There will also be valet parking and bar/lounge areas for both men and women.
When: March 2014.
A sure sign that Walnut Creek has arrived are plans for a Bentley dealership. The babies start at $205,000 and run as high as $400,000. The cars are handmade in England and represent the highest end of the high-end car market.
What’s coming: Ultraluxe Car Showrooms.
A 6,000-square-foot showroom at 2003 North Main with a service and parts department, so Bentley owners don’t have to truck over to Mill Valley or Redwood City for service. The showroom will have an espresso bar and design lounge where buyers can choose colors and amenities for their new wheels.
A few Bentleys, and cars of its sister brand, Maserati, are temporarily being sold at 2033 North Broadway. (A permanent Maserati showroom will open this March at 2300 North Main.)
When: End of 2014.
WEB EXTRA: Additional Walnut Creek development
The Village development at 1500 Newell Avenue is currently under construction. It’s expected to come online in the fall of 2015 and will include 49 luxury apartments in addition to tens of thousands of retail/restaurant space on the ground floor. Leasing agent John Cumbelich & Assoc. has already signed on Starbucks as well as Paul Martin’s American Grill, the latest concept from the same national operators behind PF Chang’s and Fleming’s steak house.
The Avalon Bay development next to the Pleasant Hill Bart station has been slow to fill up, but things are picking up. Lafayette’s Main Street Properties signed a big-time restaurant tenant with a casual, modern Peruvian–style spinoff eatery from Michelin-starred San Francisco chef Carlos Altamirano set to open in early 2014. The rumor mill has more splashy restaurant signings to come in the New Year.
And yet another 1500 development, this one at 1500 North California Boulevard across the street from McCovey’s. Paul Menzies from developer Laconia says this project, which includes 141 apartments and 18,060 square feet of retail, should come online in late 2015. Expect at least two restaurants, likely on the corners of North California and Bonanza Street and the corner of Bonanza and Locust Street, with up to six other spaces to be filled with various retail tenants. And don’t expect the big national chains: Menzies hopes to bring in successful smaller-scale Bay Area operators that reflect the higher-end demographics of Central Contra Costa.
La Fiesta Square
The bustling Chow restaurant has long anchored La Fiesta Square, but exciting new food and retail tenants will add even more life to this center just off Mt. Diablo Boulevard.
What’s coming: Two popular San Francisco eateries will offer new spins on old classics. Smitten, coming to the former Cold Stone Creamery location, uses liquid nitrogen to make ice cream that is literally fresh to order. And Roam Artisan Burger, set to go into the former AG Ferrari space in December, sources sustainable meats for its gourmet selection of burgers, which includes exotic options such as bison and elk.
Across Fiesta Lane, the highly anticipated The Cooperage American Grille is taking over for old standby Petar’s. Set to open in January, this 295-seat gastropub from McCormick & Schmick’s scion, Andrew McCormick, will include a huge front patio, dining area, and two full bars. And going up next to The Cooperage are three new retail spaces. Possibilities include a new salon or spa, and a specialty food and/or gift store.
When: Early 2014.
Park Plaza Shops
The quaint little parklet at Moraga Road and Mt. Diablo Boulevard is perhaps the most underutilized space in Lafayette. Now, several shops fronting the park (from the old Handlebar Toys to the former Squirrel’s coffee shop) have been vacated, gutted, and remodeled in preparation for up to six newcomers.
What’s coming: According to leasing agency Main Street Properties, expect food-oriented tenants, including a breakfast-through-dinner diner concept, an ice creamery, and a fine-dining restaurant. (Hint: A popular Lafayette restaurateur is this close to signing a lease.)
When: Spring 2014.
Village at Dublin
Dublin is one of the East Bay’s most quickly expanding shopping markets, but it’s lagged a bit in bringing the more upscale boutique retailers found in neighboring cities. The new Village at Dublin, under construction at Hacienda Drive and Dublin Boulevard, could change that.
What’s coming: Whole Foods, Nordstrom Rack, and Home Goods have already signed on. Leasing agent Ranfie Ancelovici says the bigwigs at national developer Regency Center are looking to bring in even splashier tenants that could give the Village a regional, not just local, draw. That includes reaching out to boutique clothing stores to complement the Rack, and, if rumors are true, Michelin star–quality restaurateurs from around the Bay Area.
Yes, it’s a historic part of Danville’s quaint downtown, but it has also been a decaying eyesore for decades. Now, after nearly 10 years of contentious back-and-forth, the Danville Hotel (minus the historic storefronts on Hartz Avenue) is getting torn down and redeveloped. In its place will be the city’s first touch of urban-style infill in the form of an ambitious mixed-use project: 16 condos on the second story and an unusually dense (for Danville) mix of restaurants and retail on the bottom.
What’s coming: Around a dozen available spaces are earmarked for three restaurants and a sprinkling of retailers. Of those new restaurants, one will go into the high-visibility space now occupied by Sideboard. (The popular café is moving to 90 Railroad Avenue and is set to open in March.)
While it is still too early for specifics, leasing agent Gary Riele says he is looking for quality, higher-profile regional operators (no chains) that could lure diners from outside Danville. Ditto for the retail: Riele is reaching out to the sort of non–cookie-cutter shops you’d find in the boutique shopping districts of Burlingame, Los Gatos, or Healdsburg. A pedestrian-friendly interior courtyard will allow walking access from Hartz Avenue to Railroad Avenue, coupled with a design that reflects the older downtown architecture. It should add a spark of city energy, without losing the small-town charm.
When: End of 2014, beginning of 2015.