The mall opened 40 years ago and made Pleasanton a shopping destination for the first time. It also put city finances on a solid foundation after the challenging years of reduced revenue after property taxes were slashed when voters approved Proposition 13 in 1978.
Now owned by Simon Property Group, which also owns the San Francisco Premier Outlets in Livermore, Stoneridge is evolving much more rapidly than the company or the city would prefer. The entire mall is closed because of the COVID-19 shutdown and Nordstrom will stay closed once the county health department allows operations to resume.
Sears already closed in late 2018 and last Friday JCPenney filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. JCPenney has struggled to find its niche as online shopping has boomed and shoppers are looking for a different experience than the typical department store. The company said it plans to close 240 stories or about 30% of its locations.
Given the demographics of Pleasanton, it’s surprising that Nordstrom is leaving Stoneridge. The closest locations will be in downtown Walnut Creek and Newark.
Depending on the JCPenney decisions, Stoneridge could be down to one anchor tenant, Macy’s and it’s also struggling as retailers, pre-COVID-19, have been challenged to find a clear path as commerce shifts online.
I reached out to city officials and Tina Olson, the finance director, shared mall sales tax revenues over the last five years. The high point was in the 2014-15 fiscal year when the city received almost $4.6 million. General sales tax revenues from consumer sales were $6 million in 14-15 and steadily declined at a modest rate to $4.8 million in 18-19, a drop of $1.2 million.
Stoneridge mall revenues will be $1.4 million less without Sears and Nordstrom than they were in 2014-15, Olson estimated using actual numbers from 2018-19.
City Manager Nelson Fialho provided this comment by email, “COVID will certainly have an impact on our sales tax revenues, a local revenue stream that was already flat and declining due to the growing popularity of online shopping and regional retail competition.
“This trend underscores the City’s priority to diversify this revenue stream through City-sponsored planning and economic development efforts that ultimately lead to the reinvestment of the mall property to not only sustain this important retail amenity but also annual sales tax revenues to sustain existing City services.”
The City Council already has approved Simon’s plan to redevelop the Sears site with a Trader Joes-style market, a movie theater, an expansive health club (or perhaps a hotel) and two-story retail and restaurant buildings. There’s also a major apartment complex planned for the south parking lot. There’s also a potential high-density housing site on the northside of the mall.
Stay tuned as Simon continues to pivot and evolve the mall and its expansive parking lots.