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Regency Centers has big plans in San Diego

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A $3 million transformation of the 148,638-square-foot Uptown District Shopping Center into The HUB (Hillcrest Urban Block) Hillcrest Market is just part of what owner Regency Centers has planned in San Diego.

Regency (NYSE: REG), which owns 10 retail centers comprising 1.7 million square feet of space in San Diego County, continues to upgrade its local assets to ensure they will remain relevant well to the future.

While these centers generally average about 95 percent leased or better, that doesn't mean they aren't adding new tenants.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency, which paid $81.1 million to acquire the Uptown District center in December 2012, is planning to reconfigure its spaces to accommodate such new tenants as Napizza (an organic pizza restaurant) and Ritual Juicebox. Two other restaurant spaces are being marketed, along with two small retail spaces that would fill up the center. The Location Matters commercial brokerage firm is in the process of finding tenants for the restaurants.

"Prior to our acquisition, we wanted to define what Hillcrest is about," said Gregg Sadowsky, a Regency Centers senior vice president.

What was formerly known as Uptown District, is anchored by such tenants as Ralphs, Trader Joe's, Wells Fargo Bank and Panera Bread. The property was originally developed by the OliverMcMillan firm about 25 years ago. The name change was a required feature of Regency's purchase agreement. The redesign was by architect Graham Downes before his death in the spring of last year.

"Graham's legacy is huge, and we just wanted to be a part of it," said Sadowsky.

Locally-based MCG Architects has continued on with the project. Other team members in the renovation include Bycor Construction, graphic designer Hollis Brand Culture, Ron Neal Lighting Design, Jones Sign and landscape designer Jose Parral.

The 310-unit Uptown District condominiums that were originally constructed as part of this project have long been under separate ownerships.

The $3 million upgrade will entail adding new custom murals by San Diego-based artists, sculptural art installations by Chris Puzio and MakeFab, and a new façade and color waves on the buildings. Other features include drought-resistant and indigenous landscaping, and WiFi.

"Hillcrest is an art lovers', food lovers', and music lovers' haven," said Sadaowsky. "There is the LGTB community … Every community needs that sense of place, and that's what we're trying to provide."

While Regency works on HUB Hillcrest Market, it has plenty of other irons in the fire in San Diego.

The firm is in the midst of a $14 million renewal of its 189,321-square-foot Balboa Mesa shopping center at Balboa and Genesee avenues in Kearny Mesa.

Sadowsky said his firm added four new buildings, updated the lighting, added a few tenants, and installed bioswale landscaping to filter groundwater runoff.

Anchored by Kohl's, Von's and CVS stores, newly-opened tenants this spring include Pieology Pizza, The Vitamin Shop and Bodine's Bakery. Another bakery known as 85 Degrees that is scheduled to open in October will feature Taiwanese specialties. Chicken Charlie's, the purveyor of the deep fried foods at the San Diego County Fair, will also become a tenant, as well as Ototo Sushi,Jersey Mike's subs and an urgent care center called Doctor's Express.

Sadowsky added that a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop has been relocated at Balboa Mesa, and a new drive-through has been added to the CVS.

Regency Centers paid $59.5 to acquire Balboa Mesa in September 2012.

The firm developed the 266,000-square-foot 4S Commons Town Center property bordering Rancho Penasquitos and Rancho Bernardo in 2006. The center is anchored by such tenants as Ralphs, Jimbo's Market, Ace Hardware, Petco, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Ulta Beauty opens up a cosmetics and beauty salon in 10,000 square feet there this fall.

Sadowsky said the roughly 212,000-square-foot Point Loma Plaza shopping center on the 3600 block of Midway Drive, anchored by a Von's store, 24 Hour Fitness and a Sports Chalet, saw its food court torn down for an upgrade last year. A 6,300-square-foot Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant opened at the center in March.

Regency has also been making some changes at its 90,000-square-foot El Norte Parkway Plaza in Escondido. Anchored by a Von's, a Children's Paradise daycare facility opened last October, and a Shoe Heaven and a Rita's frozen treats shop are in the process of joining El Norte Parkway Plaza as well.

Other Regency-owned centers here include the Costa Verde center in the University Towne Centre area, the Friar's Mission Center in Mission Valley, the Navajo Shopping Center in East San Diego, Rancho San Diego Village in La Mesa, and Twin Peaks Plaza in Poway.

As of April 2014, the company owned 332 retail properties, including those held in co-investment partnerships, encompassing 43.9 million square feet located in top markets throughout the United States. Since 2000, Regency has also developed 215 shopping centers, including those currently in process, representing an investment at completion of more than $3 billion.

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