Trancas Market remodel months away from completion

The Trancas Country Market shopping center, which has been undergoing renovation and expansion for two years, has now completed the retail spaces for three of its existing tenants, with two others still operating out of temporary locations. The projected opening date for Erewhon Natural Foods, the center’s largest store and anchor, has not been announced. 

Tony Antoci, co-owner of Erewhon with his wife Josephine, said in a telephone interview that the terms of his lease agreement say, “I’m not supposed to be talking to anybody” about when the store is expected to open. However, one of the current tenants, under condition of anonymity, said the new grocery store won’t be ready until at least November. 

When the project began, construction company B. L. Price estimated it would take 14 months to complete, which would have meant a reopening in October 2012. However, a number of issues have caused delays far beyond that original estimate. Neither the current on-site construction company, Rosch Company out of St. Louis, nor Clare Bronowski, the attorney representing the owners of Zuma Beach Property, LLC, returned phone calls. 

Debbi Stone, co-owner of Trancas Canyon Nursery, is still in a temporary location in the corner of the parking lot next to PCH. “At least a lot of people are seeing us up here on the corner. I’ve seen a lot of new faces, so it hasn’t been all bad,” Stone said. “We should be in our new location by the end of August.” 

The opening of the new Erewhon market is key to the success of small businesses in the center, said Sam Sung, proprietor of Trancas Tailors & Cleaners. 

“When [HOWS] market closed, my business went down,” Sung said. “Most people drop off and pick up dry cleaning when they go to the grocery store. I’m waiting for the [new] market to open.” 

Stone agreed. 

“Everyone with businesses in the shopping center needs that grocery store to be open.” 

Starbucks reopened in its new, larger quarters, which include a bathroom, the first week of May. The Postal Annex and Trancas Cleaners just moved into permanent locations, while Drill surf shop expects to be in its new store in two weeks. 

Future tenants will include a restaurant by the owners of Tra di Noi named “La Spiaggia” and a Wells Fargo bank branch. Otherwise, the employees of various businesses, who asked that their names not be used, said that rumors of additional new tenants include a real estate office, a “burger and milkshake place,” a frozen yogurt store and a “fashion shop.” Tony Dorn, the leasing agent for the shopping center, did not return telephone calls for comment. 

According to architectural plans on file with the city, the new complex will consist of 10 single-story buildings, 43 retail spaces, and 242 parking spaces (not counting the employee parking lot across the street). Local architect Doug Burdge designed the center to capture the rural feel of western Malibu with barn-style buildings done in antique barn wood, metal roofing and sliding barn doors for inside-outside retail activity. The center will have a commons area, a sycamore grove and a walking path. 

One of the delays in finishing the project was determining a place for the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) bus turnaround. PCH at Trancas is the last stop for Los Angeles buses, which need a place to turn around and return to Santa Monica. Eventually, it was agreed that buses would turn around in the employee parking lot, which they have been doing. However, once construction is finished, that parking lot will be gated and bus drivers will need some way to access it. It appears that no agreement has been reached between MTA and the shopping center representatives on how to do that, City of Malibu Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski said Monday. 

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