Sad Side Show at Harbor Bay Landing

Reflecting neglect

Across from the golf course and nestled between Harbor Bay’s main thoroughfare and man-made lagoon lies the Harbor Bay Landing shopping center.  It’s the only shopping center located in Harbor Bay.  In fact, it’s the only commercial retail property permitted on Harbor Bay.  Walking trails entice nearby residents to walk there, but it’s certainly not what it used to be.

I remember when a thriving bakery, bookstore, gift shops and eateries complimented the anchor chain-store tenants.  There are a few success stories still, but the once popular Enrico’s Restaurant is now closed with all its furnishings still in place and forfeited to the landlord.  Over a third of other storefronts have nothing but paper in their windows.  There are no for lease signs anywhere.

While everyone else in Alameda is clamoring for vibrant neighborhood centers, the owner of Harbor Bay Landing (Harbor Bay Landing LLC) appears detached from it all.  The only visioning happening in this business district is in the optometrist’s office located there.

The place needs a facelift, better planning, and some marketing.  This property changed hands in 2001 and, ever since, the shopping center has  gone downhill.  The neglect is hard to miss:  dry rotted boards painted over;  rusted flashing and lighting; slapdash touch-up painting; remains of ancient Christmas-light wires dangling from trim; a stairwell adorned with cobwebs leading to uninviting upstairs hallways that discourage office rental; minimal landscape care and tired courtyards.

This problem is more than a downturn in the economy.  Compared to asking prices of $18 to $29 a square foot for other commercial leases in Alameda neighborhood centers, the Landing owners are asking for $33 a square foot.  What gives?  Do the anchor tenants subsidize the vacancies so the owners don’t need the money from the residents of Harbor Bay?  The landlord’s bottom line is at the expense of the community.

Dangling holiday lighting.

The city has recently helped the nearby Harbor Bay Business Park attract a hotel and other large tenants there.  Yet, Harbor Bay Landing LLC turned down the city’s offer of assistance.  There appears to be no effort to capitalize on the increased opportunity for shopping and dining at Harbor Bay Landing.  Hardly neighborly.

A community pride of ownership is needed at the Landing.  Alameda needs a business neighbor that demonstrates a commitment to the community.

Originally published in the Alameda Sun

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Follow-up stories about Harbor Bay Landing:

Alameda Patch:  Vacancies at Harbor Bay Landing Draw Criticism

The Island:  Harbor Bay Landing vacancies blamed on rising rents, lack of upkeep

sfgate:  Harbor Bay Landing:  What Should Be There?


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