Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vallejo shopping center preparing to do big business

Vallejo shopping center preparing to do big business
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Posted: 09/15/2009

Construction continues as Gateway Plaza's former Linen's 'n' Things site is transformed into a Bed, Bath &Beyond. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

Though no one was willing Monday to suggest this is the start of an economic recovery, activity is taking place at Vallejo's Gateway Plaza shopping center, city and store officials said.

A new Bed Bath & Beyond is under construction where the Linens and Things once stood, and the former Party America store is now Party City and is undergoing remodeling, officials of each said. And the former Longs Drugs is becoming CVS/pharmacy, as part of company buy-out Aug. 2008, said Carol Merriman, a spokesman for Centro Properties Group, which manages the shopping center.

Building officials recently approved a permit for a temporary trailer for Vallejo's soon-to-be new Bed Bath & Beyond store, that company officials requested so they can start the hiring process, chief building official Gary West said.

"Bed Bath & Beyond have their permit and are under construction and we're out there doing inspections," West said. "And Party City's plans are finished and ready to go, so there are two stores out there that are gonna be rockin' and rollin'."

The New Jersey-based Bed Bath & Beyond is creating a 41,000 square-foot store which will include a health and beauty department.

"Not every store has that, and it's a great addition," company spokeswoman Catherine Gentile said. "It's a really cool thing. Great value, great selection."

The Bed Bath & Beyond locations nearest Vallejo -- El Cerrito and Pleasant Hill, don't include a health and beauty department, she said. The Larkspur location is the nearest one that does, she added.

The nearly 40-year-old firm's policy prohibits releasing the number of employees at a typical store, Gentile said.

In 1985, the firm introduced its superstore format and all stores opened since then use it, according to the company Web site. Stores generally range from 23,000 to 50,000 square feet, though several exceed 80,000 square feet, it says.

The Fortune 500 firm is a chain of retail stores, doing business as Bed Bath & Beyond, Christmas Tree Shops, Harmon, Harmon Face Values and buybuy BABY, the Web site notes. It sells a wide range of merchandise including home furnishings, food, giftware and infant and toddler merchandise. There are 935 Bed Bath & Beyond stores in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada, according to the Web site.

Vallejo's Party City is creating more floor space and hiring more people, hoping to be up to 40 for the Halloween season -- the store's busiest, an employee there said. The employee asked not to be identified.

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or RachelZ@thnewsnet.com.