The Village at Meridian will expand by 225,000 square feet

Teya Vitu//May 11, 2016

The Village at Meridian will expand by 225,000 square feet

Teya Vitu//May 11, 2016

The Village at Meridian will expand into the lots between Eagle Road and the existing center. Photo by Teya Vitu
The Village at Meridian will expand into the lots between Eagle Road and the existing center. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The Village at Meridian will add 225,000 square feet of retail and office space, plus a second gathering spot similar to The Village’s Fountain Square.

CenterCal Chief Executive Fred Bruning announced the expansion May 10 at an open house for commercial real estate brokers.

El Segundo,Calif.-based CenterCal, which opened The Village in October 2013, has had two parcels earmarked for expansion since building The Village, and utility lines are already in place, Bruning said.

Bruning expects to add 125,000 square feet of retail and 100,000 square feet of office with construction starting either this fall or in spring 2017 and an opening anticipated for summer 2018.

Bruning is especially exciting about the second gathering spot, which will be smaller than Fountain Square but will include entertainment features such as holographic images, mist curtains, coordinated landscape and wall lighting, and music elements.

“Instead of a fountain that is a show, the whole park is a show,” Bruning said. “The next phase will take The Village to the next level. I hope it will complete it and provide an upgraded sense of place.”

The estimated $100 million expansion would bring The Village to 1.3 million leasable square feet for commercial and office, building on its status as the second largest of CenterCal’s 12 shopping centers in California, Utah, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The Village now has 1.042 million square feet, including 562,012 square feet of retail and 152,064 square feet of office with Boise Co-Op, Marshalls and Gordmans. Bruning said he has letters of intent from about a dozen tenants covering about 60 percent of the expansion space, but he added there’s no guarantee all will sign contracts.

Fred Bruning
Fred Bruning

He also wants to add a residential element to The Village. He’s planning a 400-unit apartment complex on Village property facing Kleiner Memorial Park.

“The housing market was still in the tank when we built The Village,” he said. He does not have a timeline in place for the apartments other than “as soon as we get unbusy enough.”

Los Angeles-based CenterCal has a sharp focus on Idaho

 CenterCal  is developing other shopping centers in Park City and Riverton, Utah; Kirkland, Wash., and Redondo Beach, Calif. And Bruning is in talks with a few tenants for other Treasure Valley sites he does not have lined up yet.

At times, Bruning employs his own words to describe his properties, such as “park” for Fountain Square and “retail technology” for the village concept. He shies away from the term “lifestyle center,” preferring “gathering place.

“It’s experiential retail, that’s what it is,” he said.

Idaho has been on Bruning’s radar for decades, first as the territory real estate director west of the Rockies for Sears and then as vice president of development for the John Price Development Company of Salt Lake City in the early phases of developing Boise Towne Square.

He recalls people saying “nobody’s going to drive that far west” in the 1980s and a similar refrain was still in play 20 years later with The Village.

Fred Bruning in conversation with The Village at Meridian's Sarah Franks at an open house for brokers where he announced The Village's expansion. Photo by Teya Vitu.
Fred Bruning in conversation with The Village at Meridian’s Sarah Franks at an open house for brokers where he announced The Village’s expansion. Photo by Teya Vitu.

He bought the year-old Treasure Valley Marketplace in 2007, and the following year bought the acreage at Eagle and Fairview that would become The Village. The Great Recession delayed development for four years. But the population kept growing.

“Much of that growth is quite affluent growth,” Bruning noted. “The last thing the area wanted was more strip malls. If we do something different, focus on restaurants and entertainment, people come back to our project four, five, six times a week.”

The Village followed concepts at Station Park in Utah

CenterCal creates three types of shopping centers: traditional “market and drug store” centers, usually older acquisitions; big box stores facing a parking lot; and the village environment revolving around placemaking.

Placemaking is in vogue now, Bruning said, and CenterCal’s Station Park in Farmington, Utah, and The Village at Meridian have become the company’s two largest properties.

The Village was built in tandem, about 18 months behind, with Station Park, which has a similar geographic dynamic as being a small Salt Lake City suburb a touch out of the way.

Station Park has 1.2 million square feet. An expansion there is taking it to 1.8 million square feet, with a new 125-room Hyatt Place and University of Utah medical campus. Many Station Park elements are in evidence at The Village.

Business partners Bruning and Jean Paul Wardy first teamed up as CenterOak Properties in 1998 in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, but moved their base near Portland at their Bridgeport Village in Tigard, Ore., from 2001 to 2011. The company name changed to CenterCal as they changed financial partners from Oaktree Financial Management to the California State Teachers Retirement System.

During this Portland period, they built their heavy Pacific Northwest and Utah portfolio in Portland, Tigard and Tualatin, Ore.; Silverdale and Union Gap, Wash.; Nampa and Meridian. The company returned to metro Los Angeles in 2011 to be close to Wardy’s wife’s family in LA, Bruning said.

In Los Angeles, they have centers in Cerritos and Oxnard plus one near San Francisco in Danville.