Shoppers impressed by new Brentwood mall

October 24, 2008 7:02:00 PM PDT
A big new batch of East Bay retailers is hoping for some improvement in the economy. They opened up a big new shopping center this Friday on Sand Creek Road at the Highway 4 bypass in Brentwood. It drew an abundance of confident shoppers on its first day.

"I love it. It's a very beautiful place," said a shopper.

So far, the locals are raving about the new Streets of Brentwood Shopping Mall, but will all this traffic translate into sales, and tax revenue for the city?

"Anywhere between three-quarters of a million to a million and a half dollars per year to the city," said Linda Maurer, from the City of Brentwood.

Linda Maurer is the economic development director for Brentwood, one of several East Contra Costa towns at ground zero for the foreclosure crisis.

"Certainly Brentwood has had its fair share of issues with housing, but I think we have weathered the storm as well as we can," said Maurer.

Still, The Streets of Brentwood opens just as national retail sales plunge.

"With gas prices where they are, people don't want to drive 40 minutes to Walnut Creek or 50 miles to Stoneridge. They want to have something in their backyard," said Mark Salman, a mall developer.

It helps to have a prime anchor tenant. The 14-screen Rave Motion Pictures is at one end of the large outdoor mall.

Most of the stores here at The Streets of Brentwood are national chains, but some are locally owned. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise is owned by Brentwood native Craig McKnight.

"Are you hoping chocolate is recession proof?" asked ABC7's Laura Anthony.
"It is, they might not have money for a $400 purse, but they can come here and get a $5 apple and be happy," said Craig McKnight.

Besides discounts, mall owners hope to attract shoppers by making them feel safe. Local police and private security guards will strictly enforce the mall's code of conduct, including an anti-loitering provision.

"We are up here with the anticipation of making this a very safe and pleasurable experience for everybody," said Sgt. Anthony Oerlemans, from the Brentwood Police Department.

"I'm going to go to Victoria's Secret to buy some underwear," said a shopper.

So far shoppers seem to like the new mall, but once the party's over the question is, will they come back? More importantly, will they leave with bags in hand?


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