Will an LA Fitness gym at CityPlace help or hurt the dining and entertainment complex?
It depends on whom you ask. Some retailers say they think the gym, which will take the space now occupied by the Barnes & Noble bookstore, will boost attendance at the West Palm Beach complex. Others think the gym could be a problem, especially parking-wise.
Skip Stoltz, owner of Brewzzi restaurant at CityPlace, says the gym could boost foot traffic at the center, especially during the week.
“I think it’ll be good. It will bring in young, affluent people, as well as bring in people from the office buildings in the area who want to exercise.” Stoltz added: “We need more people on weekdays.”
Tom Prakas, a restaurant broker for more than 25 years, doesn’t think LA Fitness will boost retail or restaurant business at CityPlace. “People who are hot and sweaty (from working out) are not going to sit down and have dinner,” said Prakas of Prakas & Co. in Boca Raton. “They’re going to be in and out and not go shopping at Restoration Hardware.”
Prakas said gyms are known to put a strain on retail centers because they take up parking spaces, especially at peak times for working out, during lunch and after work. Those also are the peak times for restaurants.
Bill Watson, an owner of City Cellar restaurant, disagreed. He believes there’s plenty of daytime parking at CityPlace. “At lunchtime the garages have plenty of room,” Watson said.
The only time parking is hard to find is on weekends, and it’s unlikely LA Fitness patrons will be clamoring to work out on a Saturday night.
A CityPlace official pledged parking won’t be a problem.
“Even as traffic at CityPlace continues to increase, we have always been able to accommodate our guests – sometimes more than 17,000 at one time during large events,” said R. Webber Hudson, executive vice president of Related Urban, the mixed-use division of Related Companies responsible for leasing, management and marketing at CityPlace.
CityPlace has 3,300 covered parking spaces in four garages, plus a 150-space lot on the north end of the property.
Hudson added: “The fitness center will typically attract patrons during (times) when CityPlace has ample parking available, so it’s an ideal addition to the mix of tenants at CityPlace.”
It’s not yet clear whether LA Fitness patrons will pay to park. A CityPlace spokeswoman said it’s a tenant decision, and CityPlace doesn’t know what the gym plans to do. LA Fitness representatives did not return phone calls for comment.
Here’s the lowdown on CityPlace parking, for those not familiar with the fees.
Before 10 p.m., CityPlace parking is free for the first hour, and then starts at $2 for the first 20-minute block after that. The fee then goes up $1 for every 20-minute block, up to a maximum of $10. (Put another way, more than 40 minutes spent in one hour costs $3 for the hour.)
Validations for three free hours can be obtained if visitors attend the Muvico movie theater. Guests spending $100 anywhere at CityPlace can bring receipts to guest services and have their parking stub validated for three hours. Cheesecake Factory restaurant will validate ticket stubs for an extra free hour.
In addition to the LA Fitness, could other changes be afoot at CityPlace?
Retail sources say Gap and its affiliate, Banana Republic, are expected to close at CityPlace and relocate to the Palm Beach Outlets mall as outlet stores. The West Palm Beach outlet center on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard is expected to be completed in 2014.
A CityPlace official said he wasn’t aware of any intended move. “We are in constant dialog with the major national retailers and there is no indication from Gap or Banana Republic that they will be leaving CityPlace,” Hudson said.
Gap was mum, too — for now. “We have nothing to announce about these store locations at this time,” said Liz Nunan, a Gap spokeswoman.
One CityPlace retailer, who asked not to be identified, said if the move happens, it makes sense for Gap because the outlet mall will have greater foot traffic for clothing buyers than CityPlace, which has become more of a dining and entertainment destination. The exception: Global clothing brand H&M, which is opening at CityPlace in the fall.
In CityPlace restaurant news, it looks as if the party will continue at Taverna Opa.
Restaurateur Lirim Jacobi has settled a lawsuit filed against him late last year by Taverna Opa Franchise LLC of Hollywood, the franchisor of the Greek-themed eatery where patrons throw napkins and dance on tables.
In a Palm Beach County Circuit Court lawsuit, Taverna Opa Franchise had accused Jacobi of not paying $65,805 in fees and instituting decidedly non-Greek events, such as 80’s Night and Latin Night.
According to Jacobi lawyer Donald Smith, Jacobi and Taverna settled the money issues and the dispute is resolved.
“Lirim is on good terms with the (CityPlace) landlord,” added Smith, a North Palm Beach lawyer.
Things aren’t so great at Cheeburger Cheeburger, which quietly shut down at CityPlace. The eatery leaves in its wake two lawsuits: One, by CityPlace, for unpaid rent; and the other, by Sysco Southeast Florida LLC, for unpaid food costs of $21,852. The Palm Beach County Circuit Court lawsuits name A & M of CityPlace, the eatery’s corporate name, and operator Michelle Sanchez.
Sanchez and her fiancee, Anthony Marullo, bought the Cheeburger Cheeburger franchise in 2006 from a prior owner. Originally from New Orleans, Sanchez and Marullo came to Florida after their home was flooded following Hurricane Katrina. Sanchez did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Sears, the department store stalwart, has found a new way to survive retailing’s rough waters: Sublease some of its space to other retailers.
Plans are afoot to take a portion of the Sears’ location at Town Center mall in Boca Raton and sublease it to other tenants.
Sears spokesman Howard Riefs confirmed the subleasing move, although he couldn’t confirm any completed Boca Raton subleases.
A Miami-based real estate firm, High Street Retail USA, has been hired to find tenants for the Town Center space, as well as tenants for The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens and the Sears at the Boynton Beach Mall, Riefs confirmed.
Riefs stressed that none of the Palm Beach County Sears stores is closing.
Kmart, which also is owned by Sears, is being marketed for subleases, too.
Word is Sears can sublease some of its Boca Raton store because it owns the building and a parcel of land near the 174,332 square foot store. The High Street flier shows an opportunity for two restaurant spaces, and/or an anchor occupying 39,593 square feet, with some space on the first floor and some on the second floor.
The strategy of subleasing space at both Sears and Kmart began three years ago and continues. One retail observer has characterized Sears as “over-stored,” meaning too much space and too few sales and profits per square foot.
Sears now has a website called SHCRealty.com that showcases its Sears and Kmart stores available for sublease. They include Kmart stores in Palm Beach County, too.
Despite its dated retail strategy, which includes selling clothes, home appliances and tires, Sears is an important anchor for many mall owners.
Take Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns the Town Center mall and the Boynton Beach Mall.
Simon spokesman Les Morris said Sears has 119 stores with the company, and trails in the company’s portfolio only by Macy’s. “Sears has 18 1/2 million square feet with us,” Morris said.
Morris declined to comment on Sears’ subleasing efforts.
Sears’ success in sublease stores depends on whether it controls the property. At The Gardens Mall, for instance, subleasing is off the table.
Mall owner The Forbes Co. owns the mall and leases space to Sears. The lease prohibits subleases, and the city and the PGA Corridor Association have rules that also prevent subleasing, said Al Ferris, The Gardens’ leasing manager.
Riefs, the Sears spokesman out of the company’s Chicago headquarters, said the company has had success subleasing many stores across the country.
For instance, at the Sears store in the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., Sears subleased 43,000 square feet of space to Forever 21. In addition, Sears has subleased space to grocer Whole Foods in several markets, such as Clearwater, Albany, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C. The way this is done is by leasing Whole Foods half the space on the ground floor of a two-story Sears store. Whole Foods then creates a separate entrance for customers, and there is no internal connection between the two stores.
Riefs said Sears is subleasing space where it can so it can include “complementary retailers” and “alternate uses within our large asset footprint.” Of course, subleasing also is a way for Sears to earn extra cash.
So who might lease space at Boca Raton’s Sears?
There’s no word yet, but Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, the hot food and wine concept out of Chicago, looked at the site. However, it did not reach a deal, confirmed Jennifer Kaufman, Cooper’s Hawk director of real estate.
The restaurant opened its first Florida store in March and has been scouting locations in Palm Beach County for some time. Cooper’s Hawk is known for a signature menu that is paired with wines from the company’s own winery.
Kaufman said the company continues to look for locations in Palm Beach County “but we are not close to a lease at this point.”
Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.