The Dunes nearly full
First stores slated to open in October
By VICTOR CALDERON
The Salinas Californian
With 95 percent of its retail space leased, the biggest shopping center under construction in Monterey County is primed to transform the landscape for area shoppers - and competing businesses.
National chain stores will fill most of the 365,000-square-foot center going up at the former Fort Ord in Marina, project officials said Wednesday.
The center is part of The Dunes on Monterey Bay, known as University Village until last week, when developers announced a name change. The change was an internal decision that won't affect the development's components, a spokesman said.
The first buildings of the shopping center have already gone up at Imjin Parkway and Second Avenue alongside coastal Highway 1. They're the first elements of the planned 429-acre residential and commercial Dunes development between downtown Marina and California State University, Monterey Bay.
Stores will begin to open in October, with Target and Kohl's among the first to welcome shoppers, said Bob Schaffer, spokesman for Marina Community Partners. The partnership includes developers Shea Properties, Shea Homes and Centex Homes, and the city of Marina Redevelopment Agency.
Other stores that will open in the center are Best Buy, Old Navy, outdoor gear dealer REI, a Michael's craft store and Bed Bath & Beyond. "We're happy to be at this point," Shaffer said. "When we began, we were unsure about interest in the retail space, but we're certainly pleased with the response we've gotten."
Groundbreaking of the retail center took place in January on the site that once housed crumbling roads and sagging military buildings. Full occupancy for the stores is expected in early 2008, project officials said.
Over eight years, developers plan to build more than 1,230 housing units throughout The Dunes project, 30 percent of which will be affordable. The Dunes will also include two hotels and a 700,000-square-foot business park.
Another component is the planned Tenth Street mixed-use district, anchored by a 12-screen cinema, restaurants and shops with more than 30 housing units above the retail businesses. Developers are pursuing both local and national tenants for the area, Schaffer said, which will see a groundbreaking likely in mid-2008.
A boardwalk will link both districts to the beach across Highway 1, parks and the greater community.
Construction on The Dunes' residential units is expected to begin in October, officials said.