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Owner and developer: Weingarten Realty Investors

Location: Southwest corner of the junction of Stony Point Road and Highway 12, Santa Rosa

Architect: Archumana, Santa Rosa

General contractor: HBI Construction, Newport Beach

Engineer: Green Valley Consulting Engineers, Santa Rosa

Cost: Not disclosed.

SANTA ROSA -- Left with an decade-long anchor-tenant vacancy in nearly half of a 199,000-square-foot neighborhood shopping center in southwest Santa Rosa, Weingarten Realty Investors took the bold step toward dividing one space into five.

This summer, 88,000 square feet of Stony Point Plaza shopping center was renovated for Ross Dress for Less, discount clothier Fallas Parades, Anna’s Linens and Goodwill Industries of the Redwood Empire. The project was completed Oct. 27 with store openings for all but Goodwill, which is preparing for a early December opening.

"The new tenants have had a very positive impact on the number of customer trips to Stony Point Plaza," said Lance Sherwood, senior development manager for Phoenix-based Weingarten. "With the additional traffic at the center, we have had even more interest for the remaining spaces."

Ross’ 28,000-square-foot store at Stony Point Plaza complements an existing store on the east side of the city in the Montgomery Village center.

The 24,000-square foot Fallas Parades store is the Gardena-based chain’s first in the North Bay. The company is a division of National Stores Inc. and has more than 200 locations in five states.

Anna’s Linens of Costa Mesa also is new to this market, opening a 8,000-square-f0ot store in Stony Point Plaza.

Goodwill is relocating its 8,000-square-foot Roseland thrift store to a nearly 28,000-square-foot “supercenter” in the mall, according to Mark Ihde, local president and chief executive officer. The location is set to have 15,000 square feet of retail space plus a used bookstore and public shipping counter.

In planning for two years, the project attracted tenants for most of the empty space in the blighted property in one of Santa Rosa fastest growing yet poorest areas.

"Beyond the revitalization of a commercial shopping center, this project is a first step in creating a hub that promotes community activities and provides a key linkage to open space through new access points to the Joe Rodota Trail," said Mayor Ernesto Olivares, referring to a bike trail that links Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

The project opened access to the trail from the north side of the center, used existing infrastructure and incorporated environmentally friendly landscaping and the city's green-building code, according to Kristie Nackord of Green Valley Consulting Engineers, part of the project's local design team with architecture firm Archumana.

The four large leases leave 12,000 square feet of the space Wal-Mart unsuccessfully tried to turn into one of its stores from 2002 until the retail giant walked away from the project in 2009, according to Gabe Hagemann, regional leasing director for center owner Weingarten Realty Investors.

Wal-Mart cited city related delays and the bad economy for scuttling the project. However, city officials mostly have been helpful in the since Weingarten embarked upon turning one big space into several, Mr. Hagemann said.

“When we started leasing that space, it was one of the slowest points in a commercial real estate cycle we’ve ever experienced,” he said.

Arranging occupancies so they would all come at once provided economies of scale in the costly space-demising project, and some work with city officials in value-engineering options is ongoing, Mr. Hagemann said.

The particular sales success of the existing discount grocer FoodMaxx provided a draw for tenants and a negotiating tool for Weingarten, he said. Another 17,000 square feet in five other spaces are available.

Weingarten acquired Stony Point Plaza in April 2001. The property was built a quarter-century ago as one of the first in-line strip shopping centers in Santa Rosa.