Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Balboa Mesa Unveils New Look, New Stores

Balboa Mesa
One of Clairemont’s landmark shopping centers is emerging from its plywood and construction fencing to reveal a whole new Balboa Mesa.  Located on the southeast corner of Balboa and Genesee (what some call the “center of the universe”), Regency Centers, the owner and developer, has invested $14 million in the remodel. “We wanted to give Clairemont a shopping center with a fresh new look,” said Gregg Sadowsky, Regency’s Senior Vice President. “We don’t feel it’s ours as much as it is the community’s.”

The new and improved Balboa Mesa will still be anchored by Vons, CVS and Kohls, and some of Clairemont’s favorites will be back in shiny new spaces. For example, the Baskin Robbins store that has been the first job for so many Clairemont teens over the years is open in a brand new building close to Balboa.  Mr. Fish and Chips, which closed for repairs after a devastating fire, is also open again.  And the Blarney Stone, a favorite of Irish music lovers, will remain as well.

There are also plenty of new eateries moving into the center. Already open is Pieology, a fast-growing pizzeria whose specialty is “kustom” pizzas cooked in less than 5 minutes.  Moving into the center is Jersey Mike’s, a popular sandwich shop that will be in the former Coffee Bean space. Between Jersey Mike’s and Mr. Fish and Chips will be another restaurant (Gregg couldn’t reveal the name yet) and there will be an outdoor dining patio in front of the three restaurants.

Another new spot opening is 85°, a cafe and bakery specializing in coffee, cakes, and breads. This will be the first 85° in San Diego County; the chain is very popular in its homeland, Taiwan, and there are only a few other locations in the US, the nearest being in Irvine.

Other restaurants are currently negotiating with Regency including a sit-down restaurant that is owned by a local San Diego group.  “While I can’t tell you who it is yet, I can tell you that Regency is always pleased to be able to work with local companies,” Gregg said. “In fact, we used a local construction company because we wanted the investment we made to go back into the community that will be shopping here.”

A press time, just 4 spaces in the new configuration are available to lease; all the others are leased or in the final stages of negotiations.   Gregg mentioned that Regency’s website updates the center’s map whenever a new lease is signed. “The community is welcome to visit our website ( to view the updated site map and keep up with all the new businesses coming in,” Gregg said.

One of the most frequent complaints about the old center was the parking lot.  According to Gregg, it was the original 70’s-era lot, but over time as some smaller buildings were torn down, it became a maze of stop signs and curbs that required strict attention to navigate successfully.  Although all improvements are not completeone new feature added to the parking lot are the bioswales.

In case the word is new to you, a bioswale is a graded and engineered landscape feature that looks like a strip of grassy plants between the lines of parking spots.  The idea is that stormwater that runs off the asphalt parking lot is channeled into the bioswale.  “The plant material acts as a filter so that stormwater is cleaned on the property before going into the storm drain and out to the ocean.  They were designed in conjunction with the City of San Diego, and we are very glad to know we are able to help keep pollution out of the storm drains and our ocean.  While working on some of these infrastructure items was a bit painful, the end result is well worth it,” Gregg  said. “When all the construction is finished the flow of the parking lot will be improved and I think everyone will be happy with it.”

And in case you are wondering what happened to the controversial plan to put an In-N-Out in the center, Regency Centers decided to scrap the plans for a drive through and instead use the space for a stand-alone building that Gregg says will house one or possibly two restaurants, neither of which will be a drive-through.  That building, under construction now, should be ready for new tenants this summer.

When asked what the long term plan for the center is, Gregg made a point of saying “we’re not going anywhere”, and referred to the fact that Regency isn’t in the business of “flipping” shopping centers.   “We will be part of the Clairemont community for a long time,” he said.

Sometime this summer, all construction will be finished, new and old tenants will be moved in and doing business and at that point the new Balboa Mesa Shopping Center will have an “official” re-grand reopening.   Soon enough Clairemont will forget the dead gas station and crazy parking lot and can just enjoy a shopping trip to Balboa Mesa!


  1. Anyone want to make a GREAT investment? Build a Red Lobster in Clairemont and the money would pour in. If I was rich that's exactly what I would do!

    1. Red Lobster is going bankrupt. They're not going to be around much longer.

  2. We need to get rid of chain restaurants and focus on local companies. Buy local, eat local.

  3. Red Lobster? There isn't one piece of fish in that place that hasn't been frozen before. Its aweful. Try the bay park fish company. Sooo much better


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