Monday, August 30, 2010

Montecito Plaza

Montecito Plaza Shopping Center is located on Third Street in East San Rafael and is part of a wider commercial hub that also includes the grocers Whole Foods and United Markets.
The center is over 50 years old and is locally-owned by San Rafael's Seagate Properties. Total retail space is approx. 130,000 sq.ft, anchored by a popular Trader Joe's grocery store, PETCO, and Rite Aid.
The center has a simple timeless layout based on a U-shape set around the car park, with a covered walkway providing sheltered access between the stores. Traffic is good, and since Trader Joe's opened a store in Larkspur last year, it's not impossible to find a parking space.

The retail mix includes everyday convenience stores and services, with a good selection of places to stop and eat or pick up food to go. There are several independent local retailers, such as Mad Rags as well as regional chains (Performance Bikes).
Pinkys Pizza and Cafe Trio are two popular eateries located at the entrance to a courtyard that leads through to the San Rafael canal at the rear of the property. The canal isn't the prettiest piece of water in the world, but it would be nice to see some effort to open up the back of the center and face the water with some restaurants and cafes.
The eastern side of the center is quieter, and includes evening-trade restaurants (Puentez Taqueria, Runi) and lower-volume retailers. Worth looking for is Jasmine Market, a small Mediterranean grocery store.

Overall, there are few vacancies in the center, with exceptions being small units hidden at the corners. Pasta Pomodoro is the highest-profile vacant unit. It's getting harder all the time to find a video store in Marin that hasn't closed, so I was surprised to see Silver Screen Video still open.

Overall, Montecito Plaza is a busy and popular shopping center, with a great location and good tenant mix. Expect to see it remain so for the next 50 years.

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