'Net Pitch Out to Sell Nut Tree
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer
Workers with Tilton Pacific Construction, of Rocklin, work Tuesday on new retail buildings going up at the Nut Tree site. Best Buy, Sports Chalet, Borders, HomeGoods, PetsMart, Beverages & More!, Old Navy, Justice for Girls, Fenton's Creamery, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill and Amici's East Coast Pizzeria are among the Nut Tree's confirmed tenants. (Brad Zweerink/The Reporter)
A slick online video geared toward attracting retail tenants to the new Nut Tree debuted Tuesday.
Historic photographs and film snippets - accompanied by period music and narration by Vacaville Museum Director Shawn Lum - paint a vivid picture of the Nut Tree's rich, seven-decade past in a segment labeled "From Fruit Stand to Legend," while the voice of Mayor Len Augustine offers similar insight into the city of Vacaville, which he calls a "Norman Rockwell scene."
A montage of TV news segments on the landmark's re-development, artist renderings and site plans work together to provide tangible shape to the 80-acre mixed use project under way from Larkspur-based master developer Snell & Co., in conjunction with San Francisco-based developer Westrust and private real estate investment firm Rockwood Capital Corporation.
"There will be restaurants, shops, two hotels, a conference center, 180 town houses, office space, (and) several parks including a kiddy park that will bring back that famous train," an anonymous narrator purrs as corresponding images flash across the screen.
The online video even features a "3-D Fly Through," a computerized tour, of the project's two retail components, the Nut Tree Village and Market Pavilion, the latter of which will be an open-air complex emphasizing artisan goods and seasonal, specialty foods, akin to San Francisco's Ferry Building.
Sean Whiskeman, Westrust's vice president for leasing for Northern California, told The Reporter the video's "primary focus was to reach the retail community to generate interest for the remaining vacancies."
Though Whiskeman noted that approximately 50,000 square feet of space is currently in leasing negotiations with various businesses, the list of confirmed tenants grows longer each week.
In addition to the previously announced anchor tenants - Best Buy, Sport Chalet, Borders, HomeGoods and PetsMart - Beverages & More! and clothing stores Old Navy and Justice for Girls will join the lineup of large retailers.
As will Fenton's Creamery, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, and Amici's East Coast Pizzeria.
Panera Bread Company, Peet's Coffee, and Jamba Juice are also among the franchises that will populate the Nut Tree, Whiskeman confirmed. And a new shop for Fairfield's Jelly Belly Candy Co. will open its doors.
Westrust has been "very pleased" with leasing activity thus far, according to Whiskeman. Though the firm continues its marketing efforts and negotiations, he was unable to disclose further information about possible tenants.
The Reporter has independently confirmed that companies in negotiations include Famous Dave's Legendary Barbecue, Mariani Dried Fruits, and The Athenian Grill.
"We are in negotiations, but we're still working out details," confirmed Shelly Kontogiannis, owner of The Athenian, as it's known on the Suisun waterfront. "It's not 100 percent for sure that we're going to be going in there," she emphasized.
At a "State of the City" address to the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce in March, City Manager David Van Kirk listed several probable tenants, includ-ing Marin French Cheese Co., Stonehouse California Olive Oil Co., and PF Chang's China Bistro. Rumors have also circulated that Elephant Bar & Grill is considering a Nut Tree location, along with the Buckhorn Grill and Ikeda's Produce Market.
None of those reports could be confirmed by The Reporter, save for the latter two - neither business will be coming to the Nut Tree, after all.
The Buckhorn Restaurant Group will continue to open Buckhorn Grills in extremely high-density, inner-city situations, said John Pickerel, one of the group's partners.
And Ikeda Produce Market instead will focus its energies on a new Davis store, said owner Glen Ikeda.
In the video, Augustine estimates that 3 million people will visit the new Nut Tree in its first year alone. Those visits will begin soon, with some of the larger retailers, like PetsMart, set to open in late July. Best Buy's grand opening will be Aug. 11, while Aug. 18 is opening day for BevMo! and Old Navy has a tentative opening date of Sept. 14.
"They're going to kind of roll open," Whiskeman explained, "and then a lot of the smaller shops will open this fall."
Amanda Janis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * * *
If you are experiencing difficulty in opening the video, here's the manual option:
1. Download QuickTime Player.
2. Open QuickTime
3. Click on File in the Menu Bar
4. Click on Open URL
5. Copy & Paste the URL into the field: http://www.westrust.com/video/NutTree_300.mov
6. Click OK
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