Hillcrest’s Uptown shopping center due for “re-do”

Makeover prompted by business closures?

The Uptown District Shopping Center at 1030 University Avenue in Hillcrest, built in the early ’90s, is a busy location. But vacancies have been popping up in the 148,638-square-foot urban center, anchored by Ralphs.

The shopping center was purchased more than a year ago for $81.1 million by Regency Centers Corp. of Jacksonville, Florida. According to their website, “Regency is the preeminent national owner, operator, and developer of dominant grocery-anchored and community shopping centers.” The company owns around 347 retail properties, including those held in co–investment partnerships.

The most recent business to vacate was Pick Up Stix. There are 3 other Pick Up Stix outlets in San Diego and more than 70 in California (both company-owned and franchises). Their parent company is headquartered in San Clemente.

Just across the patio from Pick Up Stix was another fast-casual eatery, La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill. It closed more than a year ago and the space remains empty. La Salsa —based in Irvine — has another location in San Diego and one in Coronado.

A third eating establishment to close sometime back was Quiznos. The Denver–based company still has several Quiznos franchise outlets in the greater San Diego area.

Gregg Sadowsky, senior vice president with the Regency Centers Solana Beach office, said the lease for Pick Up Stix ended and they didn't renew. He added that Pick Up Stix didn't leave because of a rent increase, emphasizing that “rent is a function of sales.” Sadowsky said La Salsa and Quiznos left before Regency took over. The company will be bringing in some “different fast-casual eateries,” he added.

There are other vacancies, including a former pet store just east of the Radio Shack store. There's also a space above the AT&T store.

Regency plans a complete “re-do” of the shopping center to “re-invigorate it,” said Sadowsky. He said it should begin in 60 to 90 days and be complete in “five to seven months.”

Meanwhile, the adjacent former nightclub space — not owned by Regency— at 1202 University Avenue (at Vermont Avenue) is available again, but only as retail space.

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With Gossip Grill now open in the space next to the empty nightclub, it could well re-energize that NE corner of Univ. and Vermont.

I contacted RadioShack public relations March 5, to see if their store will remain in the shopping center. The vague reply was: "We are not releasing a store closing list at this time. However, RadioShack will maintain market coverage as part of this plan, with more than 4,000 U.S. stores in the RadioShack footprint."

Here's a photo I shot today of the new pedestrian entrance, still under construction. It's a fine improvement over what was there.

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