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New commercial center coming to Santee

Come spring of 2016, Santee’s Magnolia Avenue will have a new bloom: the Santee Station development.

The 16,942-square-foot, four-building commercial center sits on 2.65 acres of land once home to an old railway stop for trains heading east to Lakeside, and will house up to nine retail stores on the lower level, with 3,000 to 6,000 square feet of office space for lease above. The name Santee Station is meant to honor the site’s rail history.

“The property had been occupied for several years by a grocery store and restaurant and bar,” said Kyle Clark, senior director at The Heritage Group, the firm handling marketing for Santee Station. The Hanley’s Steak House and Buy-Lo market building were vacant for 30 years and finally torn down in 2001. “It’s been owned by the Cameron family for well-over 100 years and they’re the developers of this new project going up now.”

Clark said the Cameron Brothers Co. had been trying to find a group to ground lease the entire site for a while, with no luck — ground leases have fallen out of favor, and no customer had an immediate need for the space. In mid-2013, when a group of restaurants from western Santee were pushed out of their site for a condominium development, things picked up speed.

One of those restaurants, the Omelette Factory, has signed a 15-year lease for a 4,030-square-foot build-to-suit space at Santee Station, and Clark said a drive-through coffee retailer is finalizing negotiations now, as well. Pinnacle Peak steakhouse, another of the misplaced restaurants, moved to Lakeside instead.

Clark is envisioning up to seven additional convenience-oriented retailers on the lower level: dry cleaners, insurance companies or quick-service food spots. The ideal lessees for the office space would be some sort of financial or escrow company, he said.

The final building permits for the development will be submitted in two weeks, with plans to break ground as soon as they’re approved. Clark said he anticipates that tenants will be able to move in to the space by February or March of 2016, with Santee Station open to the public in April.

ZAAP is the architect for the development, and no developer or general contractor has been chosen yet.

"The Omelette Factory is a Santee institution and they will be in a beautiful new building adjacent to the 52 and 67 highways,” Jim Moxham, CEO at Cameron Brothers Co., said in a statement. “We expect their business to grow significantly at the new location."

The now-completed 52 freeway terminates at the intersection of Highway 67, Magnolia Avenue and Prospect Avenue, creating a revitalized eastern gateway to the city of Santee.

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