Retail developers are moving dirt again in the Southland.

TUSTIN, CA—Ground-up development of neighborhood retail centers is making a comeback, according to Matt Hammond, director of retail brokerage for Coreland Cos. Hammond says with retail vacancy below 5.5% in the Greater Los Angeles area, a group of infill projects are in the pipeline and generating leasing activity.

“While much improved, the general retail market remains unsteady given recent store-closure announcements by Staples, Radio Shack and other national retailers. However, local neighborhood developments are thriving, especially those not reliant on big-box anchors. Leasing activity continues to steadily increase, and developers are regaining confidence as evidenced by a number of neighborhood retail ground-up developments in the 15,000- to 50,000-square-foot range.”

Today’s proposed ground-up developments have two main similarities, according to Hammond. They are primarily attracting the interest of restaurant and service tenants, and all are infill sites. Both are characteristics that support broader retail trends. Today, he says, opportunities exist in the restaurant and service-tenant categories, which are not affected by e-commerce, and on sites situated in established areas.

Coreland Cos.’ retail brokerage team is currently involved in two ground-up developments: Montclair Shoppes, a 20,000-square-foot center off the I-10 Freeway and Central Ave. in Montclair, CA, expected to be completed by year end; and Shops at University Park, an 18,030-square-foot retail development of JR Watson & Associates Development Co. near I-215 in San Bernardino, CA. The latter development, a prime dining and service opportunity to serve the student population, is positioned directly across the street from the main entrance of the Cal State University San Bernardino campus, will have an ample patio and plaza area and will feature optimal visibility on the northeast corner of University Pkwy. and Northpark Blvd.