Target may be the only option to replace antique mall in Ocean Beach

Realtor says local stores can't afford location
Posted at 9:49 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 13:23:39-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A proposed Target for downtown Ocean Beach may be the only option to replace the Antique Center on Newport Avenue.

Realtor Tony Franco says the owners of the Antique Center tried for months to find someone to take over the antique business. When that failed, they looked for a local small business that could take over the site. Ultimately, Target was the only company that could afford the asking price.

RELATED: Locals worried about possible Target store in Ocean Beach

"We tried the mom and pops, we tried the craft breweries, we tried restaurateurs," says Franco. "At the end of the day, the open market has spoken."

Franco says they tried selling the 18,000 square foot property for $6.5 million dollars. They were also willing to rent it for $30,000 a month. Both, he says, are well below average market value for the area. Still, Target was the only company that could afford it.

"Most of the buildings along Newport Avenue are up to 6500 square feet," says Franco. "This is three times the size of those buildings. So you need someone with three times the net worth or a regular business owner to take over such a large building."

People who live in Ocean Beach, or own businesses along Newport, are unhappy with the idea of a Target moving into downtown.

They've organized petitions, posted fliers and made "No Target" t-shirts. And they plan to pack a Planning Board Meeting Wednesday night.

RELATED: Ocean Beach residents ready to petition against Target on Newport Avenue

The Board is expecting such a large turnout, they decided to rent out an event hall to accommodate the crowd.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge at 1711 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

Target is expected to give more details about their plans for the building at the meeting. Franco says they plan to upgrade the building and use the existing structure, rather than demolish and rebuild. Representatives from Target also met with the Ocean Beach Merchants Association Monday night to address their concerns.

Board Chair John Ambert sent the following statement to 10News about the proposal:

"The Ocean Beach Planning Board is concerned about the off site alcohol license by a Target in this location. This Wednesday's meeting will be an opportunity to get more information from Target's representatives, the SDPD and the Ocean Beach community about this issue."

Local businessman Saad Hirmez, who owns the new Apple Tree Supermarket on Newport Beach, says the market is already saturated with stores offering the kinds of products Target sells.

Hirmez also happens to be the landlord of the new Target in South Park. He says he was okay with that project, and even supported it, because that Target would replace and upgrade an existing supermarket. He also says it added amenities to the community, like a pharmacy, mobile store and household goods, that South Park didn't really have.

But he says Ocean Beach already has all that.

"We have a Rite Aid and a CVS within a block of that location. We have a new supermarket. The need in OB is not like the need in South Park," says Hirmez. "If they come in it will hurt OB. We're concerned about what it will do to our community."

Franco says he understands the neighborhood's concerns, but it's also a good problem for OB to have. With very few vacancies, rent is high. Unlike a place like Pacific Beach, where for lease signs are all over Garnet Avenue, their main shopping district.

In Ocean Beach, that means, with a building as big as this one, only big companies can manage the price.

"Ocean Beach has very good momentum right now on the business front," says Franco. "They should keep it going and let there be an open market without too many restrictions."

Still, people in Ocean Beach plan to keep fighting, and will let the Planning Board know how they feel at the meeting tonight.

"This is not South Park," says Basil Hirmez, who owns three businesses in Ocean Beach. "This is a different community. There are a lot of small businesses that are going to get hurt. We're scared of this."