West Marine Opens at Gateway Marin - Photo: Soren Hemmila/ Marinscope

Grand opening: (L to R) Barry Kelley, West Marine Vice President, Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears and General Manager of the Marin City Community Services District Jonathan Logan speak during the stores grand opening at the Gateway Shopping center. Photo: Soren Hemmila/ Marinscope

Owners of Gateway plan major renovations

By Soren Hemmila | Aug 11, 2014

Where expectant moms and dads once shopped for Baby Bjorn baby carriers and Diaper Genies, new customers of West Marine’s flagship store in Marin City can now browse marine gadgets, nautical apparel and bait.

The specialty retailer of water life-related products held a grand opening and ribbon cutting event in the former Babies “R” Us location at the Gateway Mall on July 31. At more than 25,000 square feet, the store is West Marine’s largest in Northern California.

David Forbes, general manager of the store, said if they could have found a similar-sized lot, they would have stayed in Sausalito. The benefits of the new location vastly outweigh the old location on Harbor Drive, he said.

“We did learn we had to start rounding up the carts from the parking lot,” Forbes said. “Because in the old location you couldn’t get them out of the store.”

The Gateway Shopping Center at 100 Donahue St. in Marin City was left without two of its anchor tenants when Babies “R” Us and Best Buy closed in March. Now, the owners of the center are in talks with new tenants and are planning a major renovation.

John Waters, principal in the Gerrity Group, which owns the center, said Best Buy and Babies “R” Us were not doing as well as when they were added to the shopping center.

The Gerrity Group has plans to refresh all of the common areas, sidewalks, parking lot and landscape in an attempt to create more community-type spaces. The group is also in talks with several different people interested in leasing space.

The owners have plans for repairing the physical side of the center. Much of the siding will be replaced, and a landscape architect will help with all the visual spaces.

“Part of my job, as a leasing broker, is making sure we pick the right tenant for that space that will complement the other spaces,” Waters said. “What we want are stores that are perfectly situated demographically for this location.”

Waters said as soon as a tenant fills the vacant Best Buy location, other retailers will quickly fill the smaller spaces.

“You never want to have anchor space empty,” Waters said. “But we are in Marin County, and it is not easy to develop spaces anymore. They are valuable spaces because there aren’t any 48,000-square-feet boxes available. If you are a retailer like West Marine, you are going to seek that out.”

With West Marine in need of a larger space, and the Babies “R” Us lease coming to an end, Waters said the timing couldn’t have been better.

“West Marine is just a great store, and I’m sure they will even pull customers from San Francisco,” Waters said.

Terry Tallen of Tallen Capital Partners, who has been working in conjunction with the Gerrity Group to rehab the center, said the main purpose of the rehabilitation is to fit the retailers to the community and to serve the residents and visitors who come to Marin.

“West Marine is the first new tenant in our redevelopment process,” Tallen said. “We are doing this as building block process as we move everything forward. Once we complete the West Marine opening, we are going to do a complete refurbishment of the shopping center.”

Jonathan Logan, general manager of the Marin City Community Services District, said the district looks forward to having West Marine in the community and welcomes the store as a partner.

“We’re very excited about you being here and opening up a store in Marin City,” Logan said. “We understand the economic vitality of this shopping center means economic viability of the Marin City community. It is something we value.”

Longtime Sausalito resident and Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears said she was very familiar with West Marine store. She presented a certificate of appreciation from the county in honor of the store’s opening.

“I know West Marine has been looking for more space for a long time,” Sears said. “This is really exciting and I’m really glad West Marine could stay in Southern Marin. You are really a treasured business for Southern Marin and we are glad to keep you here.”

Visit westmarine.com for more information.

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