Merely a few short years ago, the now bustling Trading Post shopping center on the southeast corner of Herndon and Clovis avenues was home to just a few eateries and small retailers barely holding on due to a lack of an anchor tenant and visibility.
With a Wal-Mart Supercenter opening up across the street in the all-new Clovis Crossing shopping center, previous grocery store anchor Save Mart moved to the east to occupy the former Ralphs space next door to GB3 on the northeast corner of Fowler and Herndon, leaving the Trading Post behind. Gradually, other shops within the center began moving as well or shutting their doors altogether.
Once again, as has frequently happened in neighboring Fresno, another old shopping center seemed to be left behind in the wake of a shiny new construction nearby. Luckily for Clovis, the Trading Post shopping center’s story had a better end. Rather than fizzle and become forgotten, the center was revived thanks to a near $24 million investment loan from Walker & Dunlop, Inc.
More than two years ago, Walker & Dunlop, one of the largest commercial real estate and finance companies in the United States, arranged a construction line of credit to fund the property’s acquisition, rehab, and tenant improvements.
At the time, the shopping center was only 20 percent occupied with two unanchored spaces. The borrower, Rich Development, has since renovated, expanded, and revitalized The Trading Post with national and regional credit tenants, achieving over 95 percent occupancy and an incredible increase in activity.
Today, The Trading Post is anchored by Sprouts Farmers Market and Ross, and other previously vacated spaces are home to Skechers, Tuesday Morning and Deli Delicious. In addition to re-occupying the spaces and giving the center a much-needed facelift, two new pads were also constructed and feature new businesses such as AAA insurance and Pieology Pizzeria.
City planning director Dwight Kroll credits the Trading Post success story to the city’s strong partnership with the developer, Rich Development, which also developed the El Paseo shopping center in northwest Fresno. The developer was willing to work with the city on the turnaround project, with the assistance of Walker & Dunlop, after working with the city to bring a Burlington Coat Factory to a long-term vacant space in Clovis along Shaw Avenue.
“When Rich was working on Burlington, they had a date that they had to get in there or they were going to lose the lease or business. And we said we would get it done and we got through plan check and site plan review, and we worked with them to get that retailer in there in a very short amount of time. So, hopefully, it would be a success for them and also a success for us in terms of how that center is populated,” Kroll said. “Based on that relationship we had with the developer, they started looking at this shopping center at Clovis and Herndon.”
Kroll said the city took some heat from the community on the deal at first since the plan for the improved Trading Post involved the removal of some trees that were blocking store visibility from Herndon Avenue. But now that the center is thriving, Kroll says the minor grief was worth the ultimate outcome and the newly planted trees and shrubs, he added, will grow nicely and not block any of the businesses.
“It is lively and the plant material is coming back up and it looks good,” Kroll said. “We went through some tension and we were willing to take some community grief to get that going but now we have a full shopping center and it is across the street from Wal-Mart, and actually the vitality between those two centers is amazing. Those uses are bringing in more customers; they are stealing customers from each other.”
While the partnership between the city and the developer was vital to the center’s success, Joseph Rich, General Partner of Rich Development, said the turnaround plan could not have been completed without the expertise of the Walker & Dunlop team.
“We have worked with [Walker & Dunlop managing director] Jeff Hudson and his team for over 30 years and are once again very pleased with their results,” Rich said.
The firm, which recently announced closing on the $23,985,000 loan for the 127,764-square foot center, was also happy with the end result.
“Our client has done an incredible job with this property and we are thrilled that we were given the opportunity to play a role in this success story,” Hudson said.