By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 03/20/15 – 8:32 PM PDT |

From west to east, as the economy improves, Inland Empire malls and shopping centers are gradually seeing a bit of a resurgence, with once empty spaces being filled, more construction and customers a little more willing to dish out some cash and some credit.

In essence, the mall market seems to have turned a certain corner.

The vacancy rate for Inland Empire malls is 6.3 percent, said Brad Umansky, president of Progressive Real Estate Partners, a commercial broker in the region, who analyzes regional retail vacancy rates.

That’s an improvement from a high of 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, he said.

There’s still a ways to go.

At the height of the real estate boom nearly a decade ago, the vacancy rate throughout 2006 and 2007 was less than 2 percent, Umansky said.

But there are pockets in the region getting close to that high mark. The vacancy rate in the west end of the Inland Empire is at 4.3 percent, Umansky said.

“The 210 (Freeway) corridor from Upland through Fontana has really strengthened over the past 12 months,” Umansky said. “We’ve seen vacancies drop fairly significantly because those areas with the highest income have the newest shopping centers, which have attracted the best retailers. The improving economy has caused more of the Los Angeles and Orange County retailers to be willing to make a commitment into our marketplace, and the areas that most simulate Orange County and Los Angeles are the foothill communities.”

The vacancy rate for the Inland Empire’s power centers, such as The Colonies in Upland or Citrus Plaza in Redlands is a combined 7.4 percent, Umansky said, though the western side is at 5.9 percent and the eastern part is at 8.6 percent.

In Rancho Cucamonga, two new stores and a restaurant are opening at Victoria Gardens.

In the Redlands area, a new major shopping center called Mountain Grove will add to the mix of shops and restaurants in the “Donut Hole” region by the intersection of West Lugonia Avenue and Alabama Street.

And in Montclair, city officials and the new owner of Montclair Plaza, Los Angeles-based CIM Group, are in discussions about a major overhaul, with the addition of new stores and a movie theater, with work possibly beginning this summer.

Montclair resident Victor Alvarez, 19, was hanging out with his friends at the mall on Tuesday.

“I just think (the overhaul plan) is better because, at this mall, there isn’t much to do here. … You come here once, you’ve seen everything already,” Alvarez said. “…Now they’re going to be driving by and say, ‘Oh look what’s there,’ and pull off and it will get a lot of business and revenue for the area.”

Alvarez’s friend, Yousef Elzein, 19, of Montclair, agreed.

“It sounds like a pretty good idea, especially for the people around here,” Elzein said.

To read entire story, click here.