Time for change at Trancas

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Changes abound in Malibu, including at the Trancas shopping center, which is in for a face lift and two new eateries.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

You almost need a scorecard to keep track of all the dizzying changes taking place in the Malibu business community: Cook’s Family Market: out, Pavilions: in. Cosentino’s flower shop: out, Ralph Lauren: in. Clarisse Beauty Supply: out, Juicy Couture: in. Planet Blue Kids: out, Oliver Peoples: in. Champagne Bakery: out, Barrel Malibu: in. Blockbuster: out, Wachovia Bank: in. Malibu Shaman: relocated, MAC Cosmetics: in. Granita: gone. The Dume Room: history. McLean Gallery, Tops Gallery and Bernie Safire Hair Salon: all hoping to find new homes in the old Malibu Lumber location. David Geffen’s Malibu Beach Inn hotel: still undergoing renovations.

There are numerous changes on the restaurant front as well. Billionaire Larry Ellison has purchased the Windsail and PierView restaurant properties, Lino restaurant will soon become Terra, and BeauRivage is in escrow.

At the Trancas shopping center, which is situated on 10 acres at Pacific Coast Highway and Trancas Canyon, Tra di Noi’s Antonio Alessi and nightlife impresario Rande Gerber are poised to open two new eateries. Alessi’s Italian restaurant will be called Spiaggia while Gerber, who specializes in hipster hot spots, is planning a family style steakhouse.

The Malibu Planning Department has received applications for the two dining establishments plus an application for temporary housing for Joey Escobar’s karate school.

The Trancas center is currently home to HOWS Trancas Market, a coffee shop, a garden center, general store, dry cleaner and mail center.

Trancas property co-owner Dan Bercu said he doesn’t plan on changing the center’s character.

“I love the property,” Bercu told The Malibu Times. “It will remain rustic in nature.”

Unlike the owners of many of Malibu’s other shopping centers, Bercu, Gerber and Alessi are all local residents.

Bercu emphasized his commitment to the community.

“There aren’t a lot of options for independent stores,” he said. We are trying to preserve local businesses.”

Bercu’s business partner, Jim Rosenfield, said their plan for Trancas will be “low density, charming” and not be unlike their other property, the Brentwood Country Mart.

“We want to do what is appropriate to Malibu as opposed to a big development,” he said. “We want to go with the community, not against it.”

In addition to Trancas and the Brentwood Country Mart, Bercu and Rosenfield own the center used by the natural foods store Pacific Coast Greens. Bercu said the popular organic grocer would remain, but a neighboring space, previously occupied by the Malibu Mountain Gallery, may become home to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or a Pinkberry yogurt shop.

As for the Trancas center, Bercu and Rosenfield will take on a major upgrade of the center’s septic system once their permits are approved. The restaurants could be in operation by the end of the year and there are plans to eventually introduce new stores. In the meantime, the Trancas owners are taking pains to reassure the community that they will reach out to independent mom and pop businesses. Said Rosenfield, “We care more about creating good public spaces and the community as opposed to just making money.”

Bercu echoed those sentiments adding, “We’re not going to be Orange County. Otherwise, everything in America will look the same with The Gap and Starbucks.”