By Doug Deaver
(Editor’s Note: Supervisor Zach Friend and Business Counselor Doug Deaver have been working diligently to help the businesses of Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center that were given just 30 days to close. Here is an update submitted by Deaver.)
As you are aware, most Rancho Del Mar business tenants are on month-to-month leases. These terms have been in place for most since Safeway purchased the center in February 2012. Terramar (now TRC) purchased the center from Safeway in December 2014 and continued to leave many of the tenants on month-to-month leases.
On September 1st TRC advised several of the tenants that it was giving them 30 days notice to terminate the lease. That gave the tenants 30 days to close the business, liquidate the inventory and assets, and vacate the property.
Although TRC had the legal right to do this, the owners and community members expected that more notice would be given to provide ample time to shut down, liquidate inventory and assets, and provide owners and employees time to find other jobs.
There were many concerns expressed by the tenants given notice. Some were expressed to Zach Friend directly and some through me as a counselor with the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Based on this input, Zach worked diligently with TRC to mitigate the impact on the affected local businesses. Through Zach’s efforts TRC agreed to several key concessions to help these local businesses:
- Provide the businesses an additional 11 days to October 11 to empty out their stores after the close of business on September 30. Additional time was requested, but denied by TRC based on a tight construction schedule.
It would have been nice to get an additional month or two, but it would be a mixed bag. The restaurant business in this area is historically slow during the fall months, so for restaurants hoping to return to the center, it would probably be better to start construction sooner than later.
For a store like Le Chef, Christmas sales would be a significant factor. However, extending the shutdown to October 31 or November 30 would have resulted in Le Chef shutting down right in the middle of the Christmas sales.
- The leases require that the vacating tenants restore all mechanical equipment in good working condition. This would have been a major expense for several of the tenants. TRC agreed to waive this requirement.
- Vacating tenants have been released from the requirement to remove any signage, stationery restaurant equipment, or attached fixtures, thereby saving them significant money. No carpet replacement, wall painting, etc. are being required to restore the buildings to the condition required in the lease.
- Tenants were provided with an allowance to cover storage of inventory and fixtures beyond the October 11 date.
- Tenants were assured they would get their full deposits back if they complied with minimal cleanup efforts.
- Le Chef was offered a temporary site within the center at a reduced rent to operate until construction of the current site is completed. However, at this time is Le Chef has stated they will not be pursuing this option.
- Although not confirmed yet, we believe that TRC will be providing help in providing dumpsters for tenants to dispose of any unwanted items as they vacate.
It’s unfortunate that a lack of communication from TRC to tenants in the center has created tension and hardship. Through better communication many of the current problems and frustrations could have been alleviated.
TRC has sited changes in personnel as an explanation; however, moving forward they need to improve communication with existing tenants and the community to effectively complete the project.