Cushman Delivers A 'Sonic Boom'

LA MESA -- After years of speculation and rumors about the future of Grossmont Center, the property's owner walked to the microphone Tuesday at the La Mesa City Council meeting and had good news for the town.
Stephen Cushman, who resumed his family's control of La Mesa's biggest commercial property recently, said the family intends to reinvest in the center. Cushman said the center is currently extending tenant leases in the center while beginning to look at ways of adding new development on the outer corridor of the more than 150 acre property. The first signs of that new development will be a new franchise of the popular Sonic drive-in restaurant that will be taking the place of the Arby's Restaurant near the Jackson Drive and Center Street portion of the Grossmont property.

Sonic's location in Santee (above) is always busy.
Cushman told the council his team will be looking to add some "mixed use" development in under-developed portions of the property and would be upgrading furnishings and adding a public Community Room within the existing mall property.

Cushman's announcement put to rest speculation that the owners intended to do a major overhaul of the property that might have moved away from the retail mix that generates significant sales tax revenue to the City of La Mesa. Past models of possible redevelopment suggested the property could undergo major turnover of tenants while migrating to a mixed-use -- retail and residential -- development. 

Cushman's presentation Tuesday suggested mixed-use and new development will come but more as an evolution than a radical overhaul of the popular center.

La Mesa's new mayor Mark Arapostathis was bouyed by what he heard. "It sounds like good news for the city,'' Arapostathis said. "He is investing and looking for new development along the outer core. The new Sonic alone is something I've wanted to see for the city for a long time.''

While La Mesa's downtown Village gets a lot of attention because of its iconic, historic look and feel, Grossmont Center and the adjoining Sharp Grossmont Hospital are the true economic driver's of the city for commerce and employment. Cushman's appearance at the council meeting sends a clear signal that the center will remain at the heart of local commerce even as it looks to make better use of some of the land within its footprint.

The council also withheld final decisions on an "in-lieu'' of parking program that would have allowed developers in the downtown Village to contribute to a fund that would eventually build a parking garage while relaxing the parking space requirements for some commercial development.

The council had questions about the eventual cost of a parking garage and the impact of the new street-scape project currently underway on parking demand in the village. 

That proposal was continued to the first meeting in March.

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Tags: Grossmont Center, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newspaper, Mark Arapostathis, Sonic, Sonic Drive-In, Stephen Cushman

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Comment by Jenn Nipper on February 5, 2015 at 10:54am

Cushman - La Mesa is a nice community and we have money to spend!  Higher end stores, please!  Grossmont is a fairly tacky and tired mall. In and out of Target is all we ever do.  I'd love you to gut the heck out of it and make it more high end.  Driving my wallet to Fashion Valley currently, but would much rather support the tax base in my home city.  There's a new WalMart - let those shoppers go to that one (why in the world did two get approved anyway?) and turn that into a Nordstrom.

Comment by Aaron Seth on February 2, 2015 at 12:16pm

The Cushman's Grossmont Center plan includes eventual mixed-use projects on their 125 acre Grossmont Center property - including "smart-growth" residential and a hotel.

Is it just me or does that seem to put a rather nasty dent in the Kitzman's argument for why they city needs a ten story Park Station squished into less than 5 acres of land?

Comment by stacey walsh on January 28, 2015 at 9:10pm

Don't hold your breath people, Nordstrom's will never happen in East County. Demographics plain and simple.

Comment by Beverly Linkhart on January 28, 2015 at 3:42pm
Happy to hear about the exciting changes, but verrrrrrry sad that we will no longer have an Arby's. It is sad that Arby's will be replaced by Sonic. Isn't there some place else that could go?
Comment by barry tarvin on January 28, 2015 at 1:24pm

Major stores can not just move in to an established mall. Macy's, Target and Wal Mart would probably have to sign off on the deal. 

Comment by Karen Hernquist on January 28, 2015 at 10:45am

This is great news for La Mesa and the East County area...  And yes, I agree with Bonnie- I feel our ever-growing community could use a Nordstroms as another major anchor store.  

Comment by Gregory Spire on January 28, 2015 at 10:18am

I have to say, as I was waiting to present myself to be reappointed to the Traffic Commission last night, that I was incredibly impressed with Mr. Cushman's presentation.  It was evident that he and the entire family and team are in for the long haul and ready to evolve the land to benefit the City of La Mesa.  Hats off to Mr. Cushman!

Comment by Bonnie Baranoff on January 28, 2015 at 6:30am

Great news indeed!  I wanted to hear more about new stores in the mall itself.  Two discount anchor stores are one too many, imho, and it would be awesome to have a Nordstrom in La Mesa (not that this is easy to achieve).  I remember the days of Buffums and Bullocks, as well as the big screen movie theatre where the fitness place is now. think they really helped make Grossmont Center a destination. Good to hear about all of the promotion and advertising the Cushman's are implementing in support of the center.

Comment by Ron Irvin on January 28, 2015 at 1:07am

Great news!

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