While other cities struggle with lower revenues, Encinitas has not had to lay off workers, institute furlough days, or reduce services. The only sign of a recession is the vacant storefronts due to chain-store closures. To some extent, that may be changing.
The buzz among the El Camino Real business community is that the Encinitas Market Place shopping center, located at 110 N. El Camino Real, has found some tenants for their vacant 58,000-square-foot space that once housed an Albertsons supermarket and Sav-On Drugs. (Albertsons closed almost two years ago.) Rumor has it that a Kohl’s department store will be taking half of the area. In the same center, at a former Baja Fresh restaurant, Chick-fil-A is rumored to have signed a lease.
On Friday, July 17, the boarded-up doors were open and a few workers milled around the huge building that still contained the Albertsons shelving and displays. The only representing real estate agent who responded to calls would not “confirm or deny" that Kohl’s or Chick-fil-A would soon be tenants of the space.
Community leaders are waiting to see if the center’s owners will change the Old West mining-town motif evident on store façades. Originally known as Wiegand Plaza, the center was built in the late 1970s and named for the pioneering Encinitas family of farmers that sold off the land. When first built, locals referred to the center as Knott’s Berry Farm because of its wood-plank-siding architecture.