There’s a lengthy story in Saturday’s Morning News about the new owner’s plans for the center. There’s discussion by the new owner of a $5 million investment in the center, and further discussion about another owner who is revamping the old Casa Linda Theater into a bunch of new retail shops. The general message of the story seems to be that both property owners are spending lots of money to "return Casa Linda to its original glory." But in today’s market, what does that really mean? When I first moved to town in 1980, Casa Linda was a pretty high-end shopping center with a Taylor’s bookstore, a Gap and a bunch of other chain or chain-like shops. Now, it’s filled with a pretty eclectic mix of merchants, from a dollar store to Franki’s Li’l Europe restaurant, and a pretty wide variety of stores in-between. Spending money on Casa Linda won’t solve the biggest problem it has faced: Indifferent and erratic leasing. To return the center to its "former glory" will require an intensive leasing program seeking out high-end shops and businesses and the willingness to turn down some of the low-end but high-paying leases. If I remember correctly, the owner before the last one tried this approach and wound up selling the property off a year or two after he bought it. Hopefully, things will work out better this time around because the neighbors deserve better.


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