The same neighborhood-friendly entrepreneurship that brought new life to the McClintock Fountains retail center has its sights on another fixer-upper: the stores in Cobblestone Village.
Stephen Mariani, vice president of asset management for West Valley Properties Inc., says the company has launched a massive redesign effort aimed at updating the Bashas’ center and its adjacent stores on the southwest corner of McClintock and Warner.
Negotiations for the $1.5 million to $1.6 million project have been in the works for the past 1½ years, and finally were firmed up with Bashas’ signing of a new 15-year lease, Mariani said.
Work was due to get under way last week, with completion expected within four to five months.
If timing is a critical component of any such project, Mariani says his group feels that beginning now is consistent with recent positive data.
“We get economic reports from across the board, and we see things improving,” he said.
To keep that momentum going, the new ownership envisions the reconstituted Cobblestone Village as more of a destination than an afterthought, as it seems to have become in recent years.
One of the strategies discussed to create a “positive buzz” for the coming changes, according to Mariani, involves employing features with a newer, more contemporary look.
“The center has been suffering from a dated obsolescence, both in terms of its line-of-sight and the design,” he said. Architects developing the plans say the scheduled improvements will go a long way to solve any such problems.
One central focus of the redesign will involve recruiting what Mariani describes as a “mini-major” tenant, whose structure will reside in the area now occupied by a central fountain at the center’s southwest corner.
A planned 12,000-square-foot building will emerge as what retail-center analysts describe as a “junior anchor,” part of the overall conceptualizing of what it takes to provide an element of excitement to the changes, he said.
Planners will start the center’s modernization by replacing existing landscaping, which Mariani said has been described as a “mismatched hodgepodge” of trees, shrubs and ground cover.
In their place will go thousands of leafy replacements that the new owners hope will give the center the feel of a place where they’ll want not just to shop but to linger—to think of as “a gathering place.”
Center owners say feel they better about the planned landscaping-replacement program, having proven the long-term success of a similar effort at McClintock Fountains several years ago. A group of nearby residents objected to plans to renovate that center, which included removing trees and other vegetation.
McClintock Fountains’ replacement landscaping, however, accomplished three goals: it grew quickly to maturity; it made shops and their signage more visible; and it helped enable a number of shop owners to survive the brutal economic conditions of those times.
Hoping to retain some of the original design elements that gave Cobblestone its distinctive qualities in the early years, the new owners retained Larry Ellerman of Phoenix-based architects Ellerman Shick & Bruno to oversee the redesign.
“We believe that doing so will help capture the excitement that was existing when the center opened,” Mariani said.
As to new occupants for the redesigned center, Mariani said no major recruiting effort has yet been launched.
“We purposely resisted the temptation to look for new tenants because we wanted them to be able to touch and feel the finished product rather than have to make a decision from color swirls on a plan sheet.”