LAKE FOREST, CA-Westrust of Calabasas has opened its 279,000-sf Orchard shopping center after six years of planning and implementation. The center, with Ralphs and Carino’s Italian Grill as its final two anchors, has opened at the intersection of El Toro Rd. and Rockfield Blvd.

The new Westrust center is in an area where the City of Lake Forest has spent $33 million to revitalize El Toro Rd. in the largest such Lake Forest capital improvement project to date. In addition to the 55,000-sf Ralphs supermarket and the 7,500-sf Carino’s Italian Grill, the tenants at the Orchard include Staples, HomeGoods, PetSmart, Shoe Pavilion, Pier 1 Imports and three other restaurants.

The opening of Ralphs and Carino’s Italian Grill represent “the final two pieces to this puzzle,” comment Charlie Smith and Ricardo Capretta, co-managing partners of Westrust. Situated on the 25.1-acre site of the old Saddleback Valley Plaza, the new Orchard community center was designed as the new town square for Lake Forest.

Design elements created by Westrust include the center’s craftsman-style architecture, a central Main Street and a large central plaza that serves as a gathering place for the open air center. The new Westrust center is a major component of the city’s revitalization effort.

The original retail center, Saddle Valley Plaza, was built in 1968 and was the main retail center on El Toro Rd. Ownership of the 25-acre property had been parceled out to five members of one family, each of whom had different plans for the site.

After years of negotiations, Westrust and its partners at Apollo embarked on a lengthy and competitive process of assembling the entire site. The company acquired its first nine and a half acres about five years ago, with the final 16 acres being acquired in 2005.

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