CORONADO (KGTV): Business owners along a stretch of Orange Avenue in Coronado face an uncertain future after a development group bought an entire city block.
Kleege Enterprises bought the land on Orange Avenue between C Avenue and 10th Street in 2017. They paid $22 million. In the last year, some stores have already closed as rent prices went up.
"I get it, it's business," says Brant Sarber, who owns Costa Azul. He plans to close on Sunday, September 2. Sarber says he tried to negotiate a new lease with Kleege, but never got an offer. So he sent them a notice to vacate. Sarber says his space has already been leased to another restaurant owner from Arizona.
"It really is a loss and people are really sad," he says. "I'm just really mad about this, what's going to be happening on the whole block."
Sarber's neighbor, Bay Books, could also have to close. Owner Angelica Ayala Muller says she's trying to work with Kleege to downsize. Right now her store is 4,000 square feet, which she can't afford if Kleege raises rents to current market rates.
"We've been offered a location," she says. "But the cost for the new location is the same as the cost for this space. And it's just 40% of the space, and it doesn't face the street."
Muller says her business depends on walk-in traffic and needs a storefront on Orange Avenue to survive.
"They told me I can't afford it," she says. "They already told me that."
The gift shop Adorn is in a similar situation.
"Each time I've asked, 'What's the plan, can we get a lease,' we haven't been given an answer yet," says owner Nancy Michaels.
Some other stores have already shut down. El Cordova, a garage and repair shop, closed in 2017 shortly after the sale. So did a surf shop next to Adorn. The local newspaper had to move out of its location.
Business owners who are left worry that new shops won't keep the same vibe they love about Coronado.
"People came to Coronado and made Coronado what it was because it was a small town and had a small town feel," says Sarber. "That feel is sort of getting taken away."
Kleege Enterprises didn't respond to requests for comment on this story but told 10News in 2017 that they would let the current businesses stay if they agree to pay current market-rates for rent.