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Whole Foods resumes Coddingtown store work; Petaluma industrial heats up

Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. plans to phase out its Coddingtown Mall store in Santa Rosa over the next year and a half in favor of a freestanding location nearby, according to a company source.

[caption id="attachment_21681" align="alignright" width="324" caption=" Big 5 Sporting Goods will transition to this former Ethan Allen store in Santa Rosa from a store in Coddingtown Mall by the end of 2011."][/caption]

The El Segundo-based retail chain leased the 15,000-square-foot vacant Ethan Allen furniture store building at 2503 Cleveland Ave. and plans to open that location by August, according to in-house real estate broker Charlie Ogburn.

"We prefer freestanding buildings and grocery-anchored neighborhood centers," he said. "We do not particularly like being tucked into malls, unless they're like Coddingtown with an exterior entrance from the parking lot."

Until the Coddingtown lease expires, Big 5 will have two Santa Rosa locations within a couple of blocks of each other, Mr. Ogburn said. Coddingtown is owned by Codding Enterprises of Rohnert Park and Simon Property Group.

Big 5 has been looking to relocate in the general neighborhood of Coddingtown for the past few years as renovation and upscale re-tenanting plans for the mall were floated, according to North Bay Property Advisors' Nick Abbott, who represented Big 5 in the March lease deal.

John Schaefer and Mark Koenig of Terranomics Retail Services represented building owner Athens and Athens Trust.

Big 5 has nine other North Bay stores and 386 stores all together. This year the company plans to open 10 to 12 stores and relocate three or four, including the one in Coddingtown, according to Mr. Ogburn.

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However, Coddingtown Mall is expecting to welcome a new anchor tenant in September or October as interior work recently resumed on the Whole Foods Market grocery store on the west end of the 925,000-square-foot regional center in Santa Rosa, according to a spokeswoman for the grocer.

Burlingame-based designer-builder Sutti Associates is managing construction.

In other Whole Foods construction news in the North Bay, the retailer plans to open its second Mill Valley store on June 9 in a former Albertsons store at 731 E. Blithedale Ave.

A Whole Foods store opened in Novato in the Millworks mixed-use project in April.

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North Bay Property Advisors was formed in Santa Rosa at the end of 2009 by Bill Severi, Nick Abbott and Kevin Klein, who had worked together at North Bay Commercial Real Estate.

Mr. Severi had left North Bay Commercial for Keegan & Coppin. Mr. Klein was an in-house commercial mortgage broker.

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There have been a number of sizable industrial real estate deals in Petaluma and Rohnert Park recently.

Plano, Texas-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group this month signed a lease with RNM Properties for 46,000 square feet of the 185,000-square-foot former Tellabs distribution facility to consolidate North Bay operations. Steven Leonard, Trevor Buck and Brian Foster of Cassidy Turley BT Commercial brokered the deal.

Relocation of companies from Marin County to Sonoma County doesn't happen often. GT Bag Co., a 31-year-old wholesaler of commercial- and industrial-grade Ziploc, Glad and Hefty plastic bags, is moving from 79 Mitchell Blvd. in San Rafael to twice as much space in a five-year lease of 15,120 square feet at 755 Southpoint Blvd. in Petaluma in April, according to Mr. Foster.

Mr. Leonard and he represented GT owners Mickey Frederick and his son Jordan Frederick. Cassidy Turley BT Commercial agents Mr. Buck, Tony Lucchesi and Niels von Doepp represented the building owner.

"The company's business has been steady and increasing year over year," Mr. Foster said, noting GT had been wanting to buy or lease a larger facility in Marin for more than a year. "Due to Marin's market restrictions on clear height, truck access and dock doors, GT was looking to go north or east."

Then GT looked to Petaluma and found a half-dozen less-expensive options with the right amount of warehouse space and warehouse clear height.

2009 was the most active period for Marin's light-industrial real estate market compared with the previous three years because some consolidations and closures of companies opened up spaces of 5,000 square feet or less to suit the common Marin tenant, according to Mr. Foster.

"We did not expect to see that type of volume, but we finally have space to do deals," he said.

The recent re-designation of office-flex properties in Petaluma to industrial use in the city's new General Plan turned out to help the marketing of the shuttered Creative Leisure headquarters offices at 951 Transport Way in Petaluma.

Steve and Judy Mahrt, owners of Petaluma Farms, producer of Judy's Family Farms organic eggs, purchased the 15,616-square-foot building from the T.E. Feeney Family Trust for $1.17 million, or $75 a square foot, according to First American Title Co. American AgCredit financed the loan.

The plan for the freeway-frontage building includes conversion to warehousing for egg distribution, with potential for a small retail presence, according to Mr. Foster, who represented the Feeney family with Mr. Leonard. Jeff Traynor of Cornish & Carey Commercial represented the Mahrts.

The building works for conversion because it already has 4,000 square feet of warehouse space, tall ceilings and rollup doors for truck access, Mr. Foster said. Conversion of currently empty Petaluma office buildings to industrial space could be problematic if it costs about $40 a square foot and such buildings are selling for about $50 a square foot, he added.

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Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.