Love where you live!
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.