The Sad Saga of Elk Grove's Bond Plaza and The Take Away Lesson

February 7, 2013 |  Some of the ongoing debates in Elk Grove include how can the city attract more jobs, build stronger neighborhoo...

February 7, 2013 | 

Some of the ongoing debates in Elk Grove include how can the city attract more jobs, build stronger neighborhoods and support small business owners. In fact our Mayor ran on this sort of quasi platform last year.

For the cadre of people who follow these matters and the policy makers who make decisions that will affect the lives of all Elk Grove residents, this is not, hopefully, an academic exercise either. For most residents their personal safety and wealth are directly related to the vitality of the neighborhoods where they live and own homes.

As an Elk Grove resident who is entering his 20th year of living in the same neighborhood, like most residents and homeowners I keep an eye on my immediate neighborhood. One area that is part of my neighborhood is the strip center on the corner of Bond Road and Elk Grove-Florin Road known as Bond Plaza.

If memory serves me, this project was approved in the mid 1990's and was completed just before our 2000 incorporation. Not surprisingly in that time several businesses at this strip center have come and gone.

"Me-Time Spa" is one of the new tenants at Bond Plaza.
There was a Dollar Tree type variety store, a place called Cover to Cover, a cell phone store, a branch of Galt's Dee's Meats, a real estate office, a sports themed men's barber shop and a karate school. More recent businesses that have opened and closed there  included a women's fitness business, a tanning salon, a Merle Norman cosmetics store, a Papa John's Pizza franchise store and a few more that escape memory.

More recently new businesses to the strip center include a tenant for the buffet restaurant that closed a few years ago, a reflexology business, a small Indian grocery store and a place called "Me-Time Spa" which advertises massages. The strip center does have a few long term tenants including a dentist, a veterinary office and a nail salon.

A casual calculation shows the strip center probably has around 50,000 sq. ft of space and it appears that roughly one-third is currently vacant. While it could be argued this was not a good place to put a strip center - in front of the Union Pacific Railroad track - and the property seems to be snake bitten - the original developer was the criminally indicted bankrupt real estate and fast food impresario Abe Alizadeh - the fact remains, it now belongs to Elk Grove.

Someone else may have broke it, but metaphorically speaking - Elk Grove and the neighborhood now own it.

Obviously small retail businesses in even prosperous times are dicey propositions. The small business owner who opens shop usually pour their life savings and their heart into the business and face long odds of success.

Now that the country and our region are pulling out of this long recession, we hope the Elk Grove City Council takes a few things into consideration as they make long term planning decisions that will strengthen existing neighborhoods and support small businesses.

For all their talk about supporting small businesses, when the city has strip centers all over town just like Bond Plaza with high vacancy rates, how, you may ask, can the city council help the Mom and Pops? One simple step is to make sure all the excess retail space is absorbed before we even consider building more retail space.

This is obviously not the first time the city council has heard this, but it is worth repeating time and time again.

It is simply a matter of supply and demand. If more retail space enters the market it will not only hurt many small businesses who are already struggling in under-utilized strip centers, it will lead to more business failures, which results in more retail vacancies and ultimately weakened neighborhoods.

How can we build the stronger neighborhoods that Mayor Davis waxes about when neighborhood strip centers sit half empty? Is this how you build strong neighborhoods by building more strip centers that cannibalize other centers?

One final note about Bond Plaza. There are two original businesses that have been at the strip center, if memory serves me, since it opened that are seemingly doing well - Subway and Jack in the Box.

Could it be the city council is looking at the success of these two fast food outlets in a pool of retail  failures as a model of economic development for the rest of Elk Grove in general and the proposed fast food development on Sheldon Road and East Stockton Blvd. specifically? 

Lets hope not.

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Fast Food City said...

Nice job Dan!

Hey, just like the monthly food truck jamborees being organized by our Mayor on the million dollar railroad property we taxpayers recently bought, maybe you could coincide that classy shindig with a "Struggling Shopping Center of the Month" feature? A pictorial could also include the gaudy, excessive banners, pennants, balloons, and mechanical advertising devices (i.e. the mechanized female mannequin at the Big Lots center on EG Blvd.).

A destination city if I ever saw one!

Anonymous said...

Last night's food truck event was specifically located in Old Town Elk Grove in order to get more residents going to Old Town and, ultimately, part of a larger strategy of revitalization of Old Town. I suspect you will see more of this kind of outside the box thinking in other centers.

WW II veteran said...

Our mayor plans an event in old town, in attempt to draw patrons to the stuggling businesses there and interstingly all of the surrounding old town businesses are closed @ 5:00pm.

-Nice planning!
The mayor has shot himself in the foot, AGAIN! - Doesn't he think anything out before speaking or acting?

Prior notice to the businesses and an endorsement and advertising from both the Chamber of Commerce and the Old Town Committee should have been in place before having the event.

Davis wants all the credit to himself, but he just ends up looking foolish.

Anonymous said...

If the event was a catalyst for economic stimulation, then why were the local businesses not open? We walked around down there last night and the only thing open was the Chinese Restaurant and the hair salon.
I am curious; this is city owned land, correct? So was this a city sponsored event? Or did Mayor Davis sponsor and pay for the use of the land? Who paid for the electricity and permitting? DId this case the taxpayer anything?

I appreciate trying to hold community events, but at what cost to me the taxpayer?

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Ms. Wheat and more recently Mr. Owen have discussed this very issue before our council. Lets not forget the empty Bel Air on Elk Grove Blvd., the Save Mart at the Target Center on Laguna Blvd., the Food Source on East Stockton Blvd. and of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the Elk Grove Promenade. Add to this all the other half-empty strips centers and you have a pretty good stack of evidence of why there should be a moratorium on any more commercial development.

Anonymous said...

Saw Davis and his ubiquitous entourage on News10 this morning. It was Davis’ version of “The Truman Show.” If you ever thought Davis lived in a bubble, he proved it this morning. If we hear those words “laser focused” again, it is enough to make one not only lose their Stagecoach breakfast, but their lunch has well.

Did you know that Elk Grove is “rock solid” good shape?

Anonymous said...

Leadership through sound bites and photo ops--it has served American politicians well for years!

Anonymous said...

I also saw Mayor Davis on Channel 10 this morning. How boorish can you get. His "use of the words "Laser Focused" are juvenile and childish. the only things he is focused on is building his warchest for his next big campaing and prmoting things Elk Grove doesn't need (e.g. Major League Soccer and 8,000 more acres so the devlopers can errode our already precarious housing prices. Way to go Mayor Davis. You jsut helped me put another nail in your political coffin.

Anonymous said...

Davis looks more and more like Uncle Jedd every time he speaks.

Gonna head out to the ce-ment pond and have some vittles now. Maybe some hog jaw and possum.

Whew doggie! - Livin the life!

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