Tweaking the Tenant Mix in Thousand Oaks

NewMark Merrill plans new food stops, grocery at Janss Marketplace.

The Janss Marketplace is undergoing a partial makeover that will add three fast-food stops and a value grocer to the outdoor mall in Thousand Oaks. Earlier this month, construction began on revamping a 35-year-old building at Janss Marketplace that for years was home to a variety of tenants, including Hooters, Sizzler and Fuddruckers sit-down restaurants. The outdoor mall’s Warner Center-based owner, NewMark Merrill Cos., intends to redevelop the site and then install an entirely new tenant mix. Leases have been signed to bring in a Starbucks drive-thru, a WingStop and a California Fish Grill. A separate section will host an Aldi grocery store in a storefront where a Toys ‘R Us branch used to exist from 1969 until 2018, when the entire New Jersey-based company became defunct.
With nearly 40 businesses and originally named Janss Mall, Janss Marketplace has been built and renovated in pieces throughout its history beginning in 1959, with new pieces added in 1960 and 1989, and a wave of renovations in 1995 and again in the mid-2000s. Today, the entire complex totals nearly 600,000 square feet of retail space.
Two years ago, NewMark Merrill Chief Executive Sandy Sigal decided that a portion of his center at 401 N. Moorpark Road needed a refresh.
“We also understood that the corner restaurant building did not fit the needs of our market,” he said, regarding the area where Hooters and Sizzler used to stand. “We went out to the market in early 2019 and found good support for re-tenanting if we upgraded both spaces.”
The 5,700-square-foot Hooters ran from 2012 until June 2018, and not without some community pushback along the way over its adult-skewing format, which includes scantily
clad waitresses. Sizzler, which predated Hooters at the site, closed in the early 2000s and gave way to a Pat & Oscar’s and then, briefly, a Fuddruckers, which closed by 2010 when the chain’s parent company, Magic Brands, went belly up. “Each tenant did well in its own time,” Sigal told the Business Journal. “They met a need at that time, but retail evolves. Today, a Starbucks and quick service is more important for this type of location than a sit-down restaurant.”
Sigal also believes that incoming lessees WingStop and California Fish Grill, as more attached to the Marketplace’s main center, should benefit greatly from cross traffic at the
mall. The WingStop will occupy 1,475 square feet, while California Fish Grill will take 2,975 square feet and Starbucks 2,500 square feet.
As for the incoming Aldi replacing the toy store, “We all grew up with Toys ‘R Us and I would have loved for them to have remained viable. We didn’t look to replace them, but
unfortunately, they were not sustainable,” Sigal said.
He believes that establishing a value-oriented supermarket such as Aldi will fit perfectly for his center and the surrounding market.
Of course, the pandemic impacted the timeline for renovations. Over the summer, Janss Marketplace reopened its stores following the shutdown of businesses imposed in March. These elements will remain open as the new components are established. There is no clear advantage to building during this time and, if anything, there are some logistical challenges. Yet Sigal said construction will unfold during the pandemic because “we are confident in the market for good retailers, restaurants and service providers
in the long-term.”
Due to the coronavirus crisis, it has been hard to coordinate with the city, contractors and architects without the ability to meet in person. However, Sigal said that everyone has stepped up on the project. “There is not a lot of construction going on now due to people being more on the defense, so (we see it as) an opportunity to keep people working and let the community know we are looking forward (and) not backward,” he explained.
One question remains: Given the changing face of retail during the pandemic, will there be any adjustments made to the layout or mix of these incoming retail tenants?
“Surprisingly, not much more than we would do normally,” Sigal said. “We have always believed in open air spaces, in adequately sized social gathering spots, and the ability to make sure people feel like they are not herded like cattle.”
By virtue of Janss Marketplace’s open-air format, Sigal believes that the mall has always been a place that has different gathering areas and zones in which people can create their own spaces.
“That being said,” Sigal continued, “we are all doing what we can to promote safety, social distancing and mask-wearing, and we will continue to do what we can to keep everyone safe so they can focus on enjoying our incredible tenants.”
The outlets of Starbucks, California Fish Grill, WingStop and Aldi should be up and ready by the end of this year.

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