Chula Vista residents shared their frustrations Thursday about a grocery store space that has sat vacant for nearly five years.
The Shops at San Miguel Ranch, sitting at the corner of Mt. Miguel and Proctor Valley roads, has had a 52,000 square-foot vacancy since 2013, when an Albertsons grocery store left the plaza.
Albertsons has the lease until 2023 and continues to pay the rent. Critics say Albertsons is doing so to keep another grocery chain from moving in.
However, residents complain the vacant storefront attracts crime.
Albertsons sent one of its assets managers to listen to people's concerns at a community meeting on Thursday night.
He told the crowd he has been looking for potential tenants in the last six months and has been working with the city of Chula Vista to find a solution.
Councilmember John McCann said the city is offering incentives to bring a new customer to that space but that needs the approval of both Albertsons and the owner of the building.
“The challenge we have is that Albertsons still has a 10-year lease. We would love for them to sublet it to another grocery store,” McCann said.
"I think that just the fact the community is talking about it, the fact that he's here hearing our voice is a good thing,” said resident Carmen Mencia. “I do feel that he hurt us, but I'm not convinced that he's going to work with us."
McCann added that recent changes in the food industry including mergers make finding a company to sublet the space challenging.
There are Vons, Trader Joe's, Sprouts and Wal-Mart stores located two to three miles from the Shops at San Miguel.