ANTIOCH -- A city that has experienced more than its share of retail closures the past few years may soon see "Grand Opening" signs replacing those saying "For Lease."
Several new stores are looking to open in Antioch the next few months, including two in a key shopping center.
Hobby Lobby, a national arts and crafts retailer with about 525 stores nationwide, has submitted building plans and is seeking permits to fill the former Mervyn's location in the Slatten Ranch shopping plaza, according to city planners. The store would be the first in the East Bay for the Oklahoma City-based retailer. Its nearest locations are Stockton and Morgan Hill.
Hobby Lobby spokesman Vincent Parker said they do not have a signed contract with Slatten Ranch LP for the 79,000-square-foot space but are "very actively looking to put a store in the area."
Brian Mirkovich, retail broker for Slatten Ranch, says submitted plans means a company is "tens of thousands of dollars down the road."
"Someone in that situation is not going to walk on a deal unless something catastrophic happens," said Mirkovich, of CBRE real estate.
Denver-based The Sports Authority plans to move into the Slatten Ranch property currently occupied by Sports Chalet this fall, while closing its location a quarter-mile away in Brentwood's Lone Tree Plaza.
Sports Chalet is closing later this spring because sales at the location were below projections, said company CEO Craig Levra. The retailer's other Bay Area locations will remain open, he said.
Moving Sports Authority to Antioch "will provide additional square footage and allow (the company) to expand upon the sporting goods and brands" in the store, said company spokeswoman Patricia Jimenez.
Some consolidation for sporting goods stores in the area was needed, as both stores were underperforming compared with the rest of the core Bay Area, Mirkovich said.
The new businesses "should provide some stability" for the eastern part of Slatten Ranch, which has struggled "almost entirely because Mervyn's closed," he said.
"It's definitely going to be big for us. It will attract a lot of people checking out the new stores to want to go visit Old Navy, or Petsmart or Lumpy's and be a positive for all those businesses," Councilwoman Monica Wilson said.
Major retailers showing interest in moving to Antioch is "a very positive indication that our economy is starting to upturn," said Michelle Fitzer, the city's economic development director.
Some new tenants also will be moving into the Somersville Towne Center.
Indoor trampoline park Rockin' Jump is leasing about 23,690 square feet of the former Gottschalks building, which has been empty since the popular retailer went bankrupt in 2009. The company plans to open in May.
National Stores Inc., whose stores include Fallas Discount Stores and Factory-2-U, recently completed a purchase of the mall's other major vacancy, the 75,000-square-foot former Mervyn's site. They submitted a business license application to the city last week.
Company officials say they are in the planning stages for the property and haven't decided if they are opening a store there.
In addition to the retail spots being filled, several new restaurants are opening in high-profile vacant locations throughout the city.
Tailgaters bar and grill is moving into an empty parcel on the corner of Golf Course Road and Lone Tree Way. The restaurant will be the second for the company, the other being in Brentwood.
New owners will also reopen downtown's Bases Loaded restaurant and bar in mid-April.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.