BY BARRY LANK
ATWATER VILLAGE – With Toys R Us holding a liquidation sale as it prepares to close operations, what becomes of the chain’s store at the Franciscan Metro Center? One thing many brokers agree on: That building probably won’t stay empty for too long.
“‘Is it a landlord’s market?’ One hundred percent – one hundred fifty percent,” said Glenn Shelhamer, principal at the Shelhamer Group realty in Los Feliz. “For people wise enough to buy brick and mortar 30 or 15 years ago, it’s a seller’s market – a landlord’s market.”
Toys R Us filed court documents on March 15 to sell or close all its U.S. stores, including Babies R Us, and liquidate the company, according to CNBC. That means a pretty sizable commercial property could land on the Eastside market. The size of the Atwater Village store is about 45,000 square-feet, according to PropertyShark.com.
Normally, a retail space this large might say vacant for awhile, said Mike Tolj of Tolj Commercial Real estate in Eagle Rock. But right now, demand for retail space is far outstripping supply – with the vacancy rate among retail spaces ending last year at a slim 4% for all of Los Angeles County, Colliers reported.
“In this market,” Tolj said, “they’re lining up.”
So what could fit in that space? More than one broker who spoke to The Eastsider suggested a gym.
“We’re really lacking in this area,” Shelhamer said. There are “a few random yoga studios, spin classes, some cross fit, but no community style gym/spa combo. Whoever figures that one out will make a mint.”
Tolj noted, however, that space like a gym would need parking spaces reserved for itself – a number that would depend on city and neighborhood rules.
As an alternative, Tolj suggested the space might fit a Dick’s Sporting Goods, a Target, a furniture store or even just a 99-cent store. It could even be subdivided into smaller businesses. But that Tolj said, would be Plan B for selling or leasing.
“Plan A,” Tolj said, “is for someone to take the whole store.”
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