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Erewhon backs out of Trancas Market Center lease

Leasing agent says a replacement tenant will be open by January.

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Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 11:00 pm

The owners of the Trancas Market Center are now working to fill a major void in the western Malibu center, after representatives last week confirmed that expected anchor tenant Erewhon Natural Foods Market would not be coming to the center. Erewhon, an organic grocery store based in Beverly Hills, was slated to fill the space formerly occupied by HOWS Market before it closed in 2011. 

The CEO of the Erewhon indicated construction delays at the shopping center had gone on for too long. 

“Unfortunately ... delays of the development of the shopping center have caused the issue,” Erewhon CEO Tony Antoci told The Malibu Times on Wednesday last week. “[The store] was supposed to open six months ago.” 

As of Monday the exterior infrastructure and pilings were completed in the 16,000-square-foot space, but interior floorings and furnishings were yet to be installed. 

With Erewhon out of the picture, the leasing agent for the center has vowed to have a grocery store in place by January 2014. 

“It’s going to be better than Erewhon,” said leasing agent Tony Dorn. 

While Dorn would not name a potential replacement, plenty of rumors have been floating around town. Many residents are crossing their fingers for Trader Joe’s or Sprouts, while others have heard that the Trancas Center owners will attempt to open their own grocery store. Center co-owner Paige Dubbert is the daughter of Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie. Dorn and Scott Rozier, who is overseeing the renovation and expansion of the shopping center, refused to comment on those rumors. 

In a telephone interview on Monday, Rozier said an announcement on a new tenant would be made “in the next few weeks.” 

West Malibu residents who have been driving to Pavilions in the Point Dume Village shopping center since HOWS closed in 2011 say they are anxious for a new store to come in. 

“At this point, we would be happy with anybody who came in. We just want food at this end,” said Harriett Pollon, president of the La Chusa Highlands Homeowners Association. 

News of Erewhon’s departure has also placed strain on other businesses in the Trancas center, who have been anxiously awaiting an anchor tenant to draw in foot traffic. 

“We need that grocery store to open...otherwise, there’s no traffic,” said Sam Sung, owner of Trancas Tailors & Cleaners. “The whole small business suffers.” 

Mike Hebert, who has owned the Postal Annex for 11 years, said he has lost 200 customers per day since reopening his store in a remodeled space without a grocery store nearby to draw in more customers. 

“Every month we don’t have an anchor here...we’re losing money,” Hebert said. 

Trader Joe’s says no 

Pollon was among a small group of residents who contacted Trader Joe’s asking the company to consider opening a store at the Trancas Center. Trader Joe’s, she said, rejected the idea. 

“They told us Malibu was too small of a population,” she said. “We got rejected fast.” 

When contacted by The Malibu Times, representatives for Trader Joe’s would not disclose their criteria when considering new locations. They did say that a Malibu location was not on the horizon. 

“At this time Malibu is not in our two-year plan of opening a location,” Alison Moshizuki, director of public relations for Trader Joe’s, said Monday in a telephone interview. 

New restaurants, beauty stores set to sign leases 

On Tuesday, Dorn told The Malibu Times he was close to signing leases with five new businesses at the center, including two restaurants, a beauty salon, a jewelry story and a women’s apparel boutique. 

“These are all businesses owned by independent and local people,” Dorn said. “We’re trying to be very much the opposite of what’s happened in the Civic Center.” 

Owners of Tra Di Noi restaurant are working to open a new Italian eatery by January, Dorn said. The new restaurant, Mangia, will serve lunch and dinner. 

Another eatery serving breakfast, lunch and dinner is also close to signing a lease. 

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  • HB posted at 3:23 pm on Fri, Sep 27, 2013.

    HB Posts: 4

    I was so looking forward to Erewhon this is a real disappointment. This has been the longest renovation imaginable and to lose the key tenant is really unfortunate.

  • HB posted at 3:21 pm on Fri, Sep 27, 2013.

    HB Posts: 4

    What about Bristol Farms? Is there a hope for that? We need something that is an improvement to Pavillions.

  • Josh Spiegel posted at 12:34 pm on Wed, Sep 11, 2013.

    Josh_Spiegel Posts: 22

    Tony is a long time Malibu resident, commercial broker, and a pretty smart guy. I am sure he is working his tail off, and whoever comes in is going to be pretty good. Couldn't be worse than HOW'S...

  • Robert Dot posted at 7:12 pm on Fri, Sep 6, 2013.

    8Robert8 Posts: 187

    I was looking forward to erewhon.

  • PatC posted at 4:29 pm on Fri, Sep 6, 2013.

    PatC Posts: 2

    I am in favor of 'Sprouts Market' coming to Trancas and lots of other Malibu West people agree. It would fit into the feeling !!! They are opening lots of Markets in So. California and are close to Trader Joe's. please consider 😊

  • Josh Spiegel posted at 11:13 am on Fri, Sep 6, 2013.

    Josh_Spiegel Posts: 22

    Tony, has been doing this for a little while. I am sure he has called everyone including Trader Joes.
    I know that TJ requires a certain population density higher than other markets.

  • carlabates posted at 7:44 pm on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    carlabates Posts: 3

    I have their regional corporate phone number given to me by the manager of West Hills TJ's. He said you can call and request their Real Estate scout and give him a heads up. (626) 599-3700. Can we get this going?

  • MAHALO posted at 10:55 am on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    MAHALO Posts: 16

    Just sent them a location request. You can do the same...

  • Steve Woods posted at 10:53 am on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    stevewoodzy Posts: 1411

    Trader Joes gets my vote and my money if they were to move in !

  • MAHALO posted at 10:35 am on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    MAHALO Posts: 16

    The parking lot is just small and annoying enough that a Trader Joes would be perfect!

  • carlabates posted at 10:30 am on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    carlabates Posts: 3

    Could someone please call Trader Joes! My family alone could keep them in business here.

  • Susan Tellem posted at 10:01 am on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    tellem Posts: 62

    It's a great looking rural center. Maybe Sprouts? Something not so expensive as as Erewhon...more trader joe's like.

  • psh posted at 9:37 am on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    psh Posts: 37

    Well, at least some one's honest about it. We've been watching unenclosed building for years, while the developer blithely talked of the opening being but a few months away.

    I miss Hows more and more. Thank heavens Amazonfresh includes west Malibu in their delivery area. Pavillions is a nightmare.

  • Hans Laetz posted at 9:00 am on Thu, Sep 5, 2013.

    hanslaetz Posts: 475

    Sad news, they would have been a good fit. Good luck Tony Dorn, find us a a good neighbor! I dpn't think it's fair to blame permit delays for the entire problem, if that was the intention. The developer chose a deliberate two-stage construction schedule and did not begin interior construction until into well into the project. And Caltrans can't be expected to approve road-widening plans unless it gets engineering plans that are workable. That said, the project is beautiful and I can't wait until everything is done. The removal of the giant billboard completely changed the character of my neighborhood for the better. Now the large commercial buildings look very much a part of us -- thank you city and Trancas Country Market.

  • Steve Woods posted at 1:36 pm on Wed, Sep 4, 2013.

    stevewoodzy Posts: 1411

    Bummer news for existing tenets at Trancas ! Tempers and Patience will also continue to be tested while locals jockey for very limited parking at Pavillions for Another 6 long months !