Scripps Ranch Marketplace Changing for the Worse?

I am the owner of Cathy’s Hallmark in the Scripps Ranch Marketplace on Scripps Poway Parkway. I was lucky to be involved in the planning of the Marketplace, almost from its inception. I felt I had a unique perspective in that I was a resident of the neighborhood, as well as a small business owner.

The Miramar Ranch North Planning Committee (MRNPC) asked me to attend various meetings and try to help establish a balance between what was good for the neighborhood and good for a small business owner. It was very important to the MRNPC that the Marketplace have the proper tenant mix so that it would best serve the community.

Well, it has been five years since the Marketplace opened, and most of the tenant leases are up for renewal. But instead of McMillin Commercial–a local corporation–owning the property, a large multi-national corporation out of Dallas, Texas, now owns it. This change is likely to cause what I believe are undesirable changes in the Marketplace–changes that conflict with our original intent about what the Marketplace should be for Scripps Ranch.

The new landlord is raising rents at such a pace that many of the tenants are having to give up their spaces or are being asked to turn all of their profits over to the new landlord. Unfortunately, the landlord tells me that my rent and other charges will almost double. The bottom line is that increase will force me out of business.

In a neighborhood store, it is hard for a gift shop like mine, which requires a large inventory, to support the rent being charged. The tenants will be charged the same rents as larger, mall-type centers that have significantly more traffic.

Currently, Learning Express just cut its size in half in order to afford the rent. And after 20 years, there will no longer be a Hallmark store on the Ranch. Having been the owner of the store for the past 10 years, I am extremely sad at the possibility of losing my business.

I am sure the tenant mix at the Marketplace is still a concern of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association (SRCA). I know that the SRCA wants to have a great shopping center that will provide the necessary services for the community. But apparently, the owners intend to rent spaces to the highest bidder.

A new nail salon just opened in the space that Learning Express used to have. Just what the center needs, another salon that cuts down on the profits of other businesses already in the center providing that service. It appears that other Marketplace businesses are for sale, and still others may have no choice but to close with the increase in rents.

I am informing you of this because not too long ago, the SCRA and planning groups were concerned about the K-Mart Center going out of business and the old Vons center struggling. We discussed the issues and concluded that the critical part of a center staying viable is to have a good tenant mix and reasonable rents that can keep certain types of stores in the center.

For example, gift stores cannot pay the same rent as restaurants or banks or salons. Our average transaction is substantially lower than a restaurant. If the Scripps Ranch Marketplace simply becomes a place to go and eat, get your hair cut, and buy groceries, there will not be enough traffic coming to the center to keep it viable.

I just wanted to let Scripps Ranch residents know what is going on at the main shopping center on the Ranch. It appears there will be a lot of changes in the next year. With the center’s spaces going to the highest bidder, with no concern for tenant mix or the neighborhood, the direction of the Marketplace appears to be extremely volatile.

Cathy Kessel, Cathy’s Hallmark


[Ed note: We contacted C. B. Richard Ellis, the managing agent, for comment. They in turn contacted the ownership in Dallas, Texas, who chose not to comment at this time.

Also, we should note that while the SRCA works for and fully supports a well-balanced, community-oriented shopping center, the organization is not in a position to approve or disapprove business leases.]