An Oceanside shopping center — Mission Marketplace — is being spruced up with the $9 million renovation of a movie theater and the addition of new amenities in a move by its owners to stay ahead of competition from ecommerce.
Regal Cinemas took over a 40,000 square-foot theater that had been leased to AMC Theaters in the center at 427 College Blvd. owned by NewMark Merrill based in Woodland Hills.
Under AMC, the theater had 13 screens.
Regal cut that to 10 and installed recliner seating.
“They completely revamped the inside of the theater,” said John Hickman, managing director of NewMark Merrill’s San Diego division.
One Super Screen
“They expanded the restaurant and food service offerings. Instead of having the box office essentially outside the building, they brought it inside. They installed essentially one super screen,” Hickman said. “They had to raise the roof of the building to do that. They’ve installed a new sound system.”
Renovating the theater was part of what Hickman said was “an ongoing transition at the shopping center” that opened in 1992.
“When the shopping center was first built, it was a Ralph’s grocery store, a Rite Aid and a K-Mart.”
When some of those early tenants closed, NewMark Merrill brought in Sprouts Farmers Market and Target to backfill the big spaces.
The firm also redid the landscaping, upgraded the outdoor furniture, improved the Wi-Fi service, and added digital directories.
The firm also turned a 950 square-foot former retail shop into a community room outfitted with flat screen televisions, conference tables and comfortable furniture.
It’s all part of trying to establish a connection with the community that will keep people coming back to the shopping center and staying longer to shop and dine.
“Down the road, I’m sure we will do additional things,” Hickman said. “It used to be many years ago, you could build a shopping center and it would just run itself,” Hickman said.
Those days ended with the advent of the internet and e-commerce.
The renovations at Mission Marketplace have paid off.
“At a time when retail get so much bad press — brick-and-mortar retail anyway — this shopping center continues to perform well,” Hickman said.
Craig Killman, an executive vice president and retail expert with the commercial brokerage JLL, said Mission Marketplace’s Oceanside location helps.
‘A Very Stable Market’
“Oceanside is a very stable market,” Killman said.
Mission Marketplace in particular has “a lot of approachable retail.”
“They’re doing a lot of experiential or place-making where you create an environment the primary community can call home,” Killman said. “They’re certainly going in the right direction.”
Updating the movie theater is part of that.
“The movie theaters pull people from their couches, pull people from their (television) screens and bring people to a retail environment,” Killman said.
The one downside in Mission Marketplace is that it has a lot of individual shop space to keep filled, Killman said.
Chad Iafrate, a senior director for retail properties with the commercial real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield, said backfilling big-box spaces with theaters and other entertainment options is a growing trend.
“Landlords are playing an active role in reprograming some of these centers so they have a good balance of users,” Iafrate said.
“There’s a lot of theater operators that are active now,” Iafrate said.
A Corona shopping center that he’s representing as the leasing agent that already has a theater is bringing in a trampoline park and a bowling alley.
“It just kind of speaks to the whole entertainment category,” Iafrate said. “If you can put entertainment in there and drive people to the center, that’s kind of a win-win.”