Plaza Escuela Moving and Shaking: An “Elite” Sports Authority is opening in former Andronico’s spot
The space that once housed Andronico’s Market will fill up with the arrival of a new upscale sporting goods store. Other shops are also moving into Plaza Escuela, which was left with empty storefronts in the economic downturn.
Ever since Andronico’s Market closed in Plaza Escuela, people have been asking: What could possibly go in to fill up that space.
Even Cheesecake Factory, with its grand self-image, mirrored by its extensive, American classic menu and super-size dessert portions, couldn’t fill the entire warehouse-sized space, which stretched from the South California Boulevard side of Plaza Escuela to Locust Street.
That space had been empty for two years before Cheesecake Factory opened in February 2009, according to the Crazy in Suburbia blog. Cheesecake Factory took the prime corner spot at Locust Street and Olympic Boulevard, with the grand pillared entrance, outdoor dining space and view of the fountain and Century 14 downtown movie theater across the street.
But the “rear” space, where Andronico’s housed its wine section and butcher shop remained empty. Now, after four years of presenting South California Boulevard with an empty storefront, that space will not be empty much longer.
Sports Authority Elite, a new, more upscale brand of the Sports Authority big box store, has plans to set up shop in the 15,506-square-foot commercial space at the corner of Olympic and South California boulevards, according to a staff report for tonight’s Design Review Commission meeting.
Sports Authority Elite, which is otherwise known as S.A. Elite, is opening up several stores across the country in Colorado and other undisclosed locations, according to Retail Traffic magazine.
Walnut Creek’s S.A. Elite will likely be the first in the Bay Area. It will sell many brands available at Sports Authority stores, including Nike and the North Face, but in a “higher-end assortment.” That will include $200 pairs of sunglasses, as opposed to the $39.99 brand.
As with Walnut Creek’s new store, the S.A. Elite stores will range from 12,000 to 15,000 square feet. S.A. Elite stores are supposed to go into “higher-end locations.”
S.A. Elite is seeking approval from the Design Review Commission and the city to install new signs, banners and black awnings as well as a new storefront window along South California Boulevard and new openings along Olympic Boulevard and in the Plaza Escuela parking garage.
The staff report said the design improvements are consistent with the sign program for that Plaza Escuela building and the center’s master plan, which was approved in 1998.
Almost overnight, Plaza Escuela has been finding tenants to fill storefronts that have always been vacant or lost tenants due to changing economic conditions.
Tilly’s, a Southern California-based retailer riding the wave of youth-oriented fashion outlets inspired by the West Coast surf and skateboard lifestyle, opened this fall in the 7,200-square-foot space on Locust Street, next door to Cheesecake Factory.
Another youth-oriented store, Forever 21, a trendy teen fashion store, will move into the former Aaron Brothers Art Market on Locust Street, the Contra Costa Times reported. Panera Bread company will also put one of its two locations in Walnut Creek in Plaza Escuela, the Times said. The other Panera will go into the Countrywood shopping center.
In fact, the design review commission tonight will also consider Panera’s request to hang signs at its proposed 8,000-square-foot cafe in the northwest corner of Countrywood shopping center.
The Design Review Commission meets 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 1666 N. Main St.
Plaza Esquela will have a Sports Authority Elite on the corner of Olympic & S. Calif.
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