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Tenants Claim New Fresh & Easy Market Construction Disrupting the Apple Cart

A number of tenants in The Grove Shopping Center report a drop in business due to the ongoing problem of construction and crews taking up parking places.

Business is down for a number of tenants in The Grove Shopping Center and not necessarily because of the economy.

Several shops in the center located at Golden Lantern Street and Crown Valley Parkway are reporting their sales figures are down, because of the construction associated with the new The grocery store began construction in October and to date, work continues at the store now located in a former Blockbuster video.

Manager Jolene Grey, of Pets Plus, said her business has definitely dropped and customers are complaining that they cannot find parking places.

“They are waiting until Saturday and Sunday to shop because they cannot find spaces during the week, she said. “It has been horrific. Just this morning they were doing some construction, parked their Bobcat in the front of the store, and customers couldn’t get in. By early morning, there are no spaces and customers don’t want to circle looking for a place. There’s dust and dirt all over and it has just been really tough. I’m sure when they come in; things will even out, but it seems like it has been taking forever. I’ve spoken to the construction crews many times, but they just don’t care.”

A few doors down at , one worker, Miriam said, she was told the project at Fresh & Easy would be completed by January. “Due to the fenced off area, it’s causing problems for the customers who are trying to park in the early morning hours, our busiest times.” 

owner, Kenny Jacobs, who has been in the center since 1999, said, “I’m not as close to the construction as some of the other businesses, but I can see how they are being affected.”

He has not seen any decline in his own business, he said, but he has heard a few customers complaining that they cannot find parking due to trucks taking up spaces.

“I really don’t think a new grocery store that is pretty much just an oversized is going to make a difference to the rest of the center,” he said. “It’s not going to bring new business to the center because the people that are shopping there are stopping for something, and then getting back into their cars, and leaving. It’s not like they are going to stop, shop and then tour the other stores in the mall. Just because a new tenant comes into a center doesn’t mean there’s going to be more overall business.”

He added that he had heard new rent leases were going to be increased due to the new market coming to the center. “I don’t see them coming into the center as a positive or a negative to be honest.”

Triwell Properties, Inc., the Hawthorne-based company that manages The Grove Shopping Center could not be reached for comment.

However, those across the other side of the strip center such as  has not experienced any drop in business.

“We’ve not had any decline in business at all in fact, business has been up,” said owner Jack Bremer.

The flower shop, has had some trouble but would not comment.

According to Fresh & Easy spokesperson Brendan Wonnacott, “We’ve reiterated with the crews to avoid parking in the lot to keep spots free for customers. As always, as soon as we hear of issues like this we work to resolve them quickly.”

He added that the Laguna Niguel store, considered an "express or neighborhood market," should be open in late January or early February. It will be about around 3,000 square feet, an average supermarket is between 50,000-80,000 square feet, Wonnacott said.

Long time tenant, Dr. Laurence Wahl, DVM of said, “It is messy and annoying, but I do not think I have lost business because of it. It does seem that the construction process is proceeding at a snail’s pace.

“I do not think the landlord would put up or allow this from a smaller tenant. They are probably thrilled to rent out a big space in this economy that they would agree to and allow most anything,” said Wahl, who opened the doors on Feb, 15, 1987.

Debbie L. Sklar December 27, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Brett: Good points, I guess we shall see. Lots of chaos over there, I know when I go to buy dog food it's crazy. I hate going around and around looking for a spot. Sometimes, I get fed up and just go to another location.
Most people do not remember that there was a great neighborhood market in the exact same place before there was a Blockbuster. It was called Pacific Ranch Market and it was very nice. Unfortunately, they were forced out of their space because Blockbuster was willing to pay a much higher rent.
Mike Tallarico January 11, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Despite all the construction woes, Fresh & Easy will be a wonderful addition to the Laguna Niguel Community offering wonderful, delicious product at great prices and an astonishing involvement to the surrounding community.
Debbie L. Sklar January 11, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Larry: It will be interesting to see how this market does especially since we seem to have an abundance of them.
Debbie L. Sklar January 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Mike: I bet readers would love to know who the new team leader/general manager will be at F & E. A few weeks ago we featured the new team leader at the upcoming Whole Foods and people were excited to read about him.

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