Thursday, February 09, 2006

Harbor Walk Sites Attract Key Retailers

Harbor Walk Sites Attract Key Retailers
By GREG MOBERLY, Times-Herald staff writer

EMBER LOPEZ lays bricks around a planter at Harbor Walk on First Street in downtown Benicia on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald

BENICIA - An upscale jewelry business and a wine selling company are planning moves to Benicia's Harbor Walk development and the retail possibilities for two remaining spots have tongues wagging.

The Jewelry Box and Wine Miles Inc. have inked deals for the yet-to-be opened Harbor Walk at 129 First St., Downtown Asset Manager Stan Houston told the Times-Herald on Wednesday. Coffee giant Starbucks might be interested in an opening, and the fourth is reserved for a restaurant.

When it comes to a spot on the coveted First Street location, "Demand is very high and interest is very high," Houston said.

Starbucks already has a store in the Southampton Shopping Center. If Starbucks moves into Harbor Walk, Houston said, he doesn't expect it would hurt other First Street coffee companies. The other coffee shops typically haven't based their profits on coffee alone, Houston said. Java Point Cafe, at 366 First St., serves breakfast and lunch, operating as a full service cafe, Houston said.

Not surprisingly, Java Point CafŽ officials are not thrilled about having a Starbucks a few blocks away.

"I don't like Starbucks because it takes away from the unique character of a community," Assistant Manager Patrick Curione said.

"There's already a Starbucks in Benicia," Curione said, calling another one "overkill."

Instead of Starbucks, a Peet's Coffee and Tea or Subway sandwich franchise may take the same store site, Houston said.

A 2,400-square-foot site closest to the water is being tapped for a big-box restaurant, Houston said. He wouldn't mention any possibilities, but did say the restaurant would be an established Bay Area eatery.

Mike Ioakimedes, owner of The Shoreline restaurant across the street from Harbor Walk, said he isn't concerned about competition. "If (customers) park their car anywhere near here, I have a chance of getting their business," he said.

"We've always got competition," Ioakimedes added, referring to other First Street restaurants and other cities.

The Jewelry Box had a shop in the Southampton Shopping Center, Houston said.

Wine Miles Inc. is already on First Street, but owner Karen Dooley said she's looking for more room and a better location.

Construction on the development could be completed by the end of March. Twenty-nine of the 36 townhomes in the residential portion of Harbor Walk have been sold.

- E-mail Greg Moberly at or call 553-6833.

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