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Sites once occupied by video stores find new life

While video stores are disappearing, the spaces they used to occupy are being reborn as everything from a Discount Tire store in Rancho Penasquitos to a Massage Envy outlet in University City.

Blockbuster, which underwent a Chapter 11 bankruptcy two years ago, had numerous potential suitors before it was acquired by Dish Network Corp. (Nasdaq: DISH) in 2011, and has continued to shrink its footprint.

Hollywood Videos are no more, but at least 11 of the more than 50 original Blockbuster stores are still around.

Bill Thaxton -- a Flocke & Avoyer senior vice president who surveyed 62 former Hollywood Video and Blockbuster Video locations around the county -- found open Blockbuster stores in Scripps Ranch, Escondido, Lakeside, North Park, National City, the South Bay, Fallbrook, and two in Oceanside and Chula Vista.

The remaining Blockbusters may not be in business for long, as landlords are waiting for leases to expire and hunting for replacement tenants.

One example is the 5,600-square-foot Blockbuster space in Scripps Ranch, scheduled to be vacated by Feb. 1.

“Most of the landlords who are renewing are doing it for a year or have their tenants on month-to-month leases,” Thaxton said. “It looks like these stores aren’t going to be around.”

Thaxton said while there are still at least 18 vacant video stores by his count, many may have already be leased or are in lease negotiations.

The good news about these properties is for those most part, the spaces are in good locations with easy access, making them easier to lease, Thaxton said.

Thaxton suggested that depending on location, the rents on these former video rental spaces have pretty much returned to the pre-recession levels of the $2.50- to $3-per-square-foot range.

“The rents are pretty similar to what they were (prior to the recession)," Thaxton said. “If the landlords are splitting up the space, which is more expensive, the rent will be more … maybe $3.25 for a food user.”

It took three tenants to fill an old Blockbuster space at 4403 University Ave. in North Park. They included the Casa de Maiz Restaurant, a Gamestop outlet and a Wingstop eatery.

A former Blockbuster space was also divided for three new tenants at 3675 Murphy Canyon Road, between Kearny Mesa and Mission Valley. The tenants there include Massage Envy, Subway and Gamestop.

Financial Institutions account for seven former video store locations around the county, including Wells Fargo Bank, Citibank, Union Bank, Chase Bank and San Diego County Credit Union.
In the case of Union Bank, the lender moved a branch from a small corner location in a Von’s-anchored shopping center in Rancho Penasquitos to the larger former Blockbuster Video space in that same center within the past couple of years.

The old Union Bank location is now occupied by a Smashburger.

Smashburger has also taken a portion of a former Blockbuster at 6061 El Cajon Blvd. in the College area.

In the case of a space at 1975 Garnet in Pacific Beach, a Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop and a Pizza Hut took much of the space, but a third space had yet to be filled, according to Thaxton’s accounts.

Food tenants such as Rubio’s, going into 7530 Fay Ave. in La Jolla, and Panda Express, moving into 415 W. Felicita Ave. in Escondido, have filled many of the spaces.

Aladdin Bail Bonds has taken a former Blockbuster space at 573 W. Vista Way in Vista.

Automotive and automotive-related companies have taken numerous former Blockbuster and Hollywood Video locations.

A former Hollywood Video location at 9859 Carmel Mountain Road in Rancho Penasquitos was filled by a Discount Tire outlet two years ago.

AutoZone has moved into former Blockbuster locations at 10645 Tierrasanta Blvds in Tierrasanta, and at 3513 Cannon Road in Oceanside; and O’Reilly Auto Parts has gone into old Hollywood Video locations at 720 13th St. in Imperial Beach and at 3105 El Cajon Blvd. in the North Park area.

AutoZone (NYSE: AZO), has leased 6,500 square feet at University Square Shopping Center on University Ave. in East San Diego for 120 months at $1.2 million. The space is a former Hollywood Video store.

In Lemon Grove, a former blockbuster at 7128 Broadway has recently reopened as a Petco store.

The former Hollywood outlet at Broadway and the San Diego Trolley depot is now vacant.

Thaxton noted that while Hollywood Video is gone, and Blockbusters are rapidly vanishing, a few independent DVD and video rental stores remain.

These include such outlets as Kensington Video in that community, and Blowout DVD in the Midway area.

“Blowout DVD seems to do a pretty brisk business,” Thaxton said.

Pam Sisneros -- manager of Kensington Video, a firm that has been in business for the past 28 years -- said her business has thrived by offering the unusual film, as well as those that are more common.

“We are outlasting Blockbuster and Hollywood Video,” Sisneros said.

Sisneros said her family, which has owned its building at 4067 Adams since 1963, started the business as a gift shop before changing it into a video rental business in the 1980s.

Sisneros said streaming video or Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) might be good for popular titles, “but they only let you select what they want. We have 65,000 titles and they can’t say that.”

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