Yes, we will have Bananas

The familiar look of Malibu’s Cross Creek Plaza is about to change significantly with the addition of a few high-profile, national retail chain stores. The old Crown Bookstore, which closed last year, will be transformed into a would-be game hunters’ haven when it makes its debut as Banana Republic. Locals longing for jungle khakis and pith helmets will trek into town no longer.

The company is spending $3 million to give the locale a new, safari-style look. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

Negotiations are also underway to relocate SuperCare Drugs, freeing up space for a Gap or Baby Gap. As far as Steve Soboroff, one of the owners of the complex, is concerned, the move was long overdue. “It was love at first sight,” Soboroff explained. “My partners Anita and Richard Green wanted a Gap and a Banana Republic for a long time. These will be fantastic additions. It’s great news for the community.”

It is also great news for existing retailers and restaurants, which have not generated as much foot traffic since Crown Books moved out. “We lost a lot of business,” said Guido’s Vassil Pertchinkov. “If it’s empty, no one wants to come on this side.”

The Malibu Chamber of Commerce also views the newcomers as welcome additions. “It’s going to change the dynamic of the business community,” said Mary Lou Blackwood. “It should help draw a younger crowd.”

Across the street at the Malibu Country Mart, Fin’s is calling it quits. Just one year after moving into the place formerly known as Bambu, the owner has decided to cut bait and focus on his other seafood restaurants in Calabasas and Westlake. Although there is no official word, the property has had a few nibbles from the proprietor of Tra Di Noi, who may open a Pacific Rim eatery in its place.

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While Tra Di Noi may be looking to expand, Steve Pomerance of SuperCare Drugs is looking to scale down. “This space is too big for us,” he explained. “We need to cut out the gifts and focus more on health and beauty aids and being a neighborhood pharmacy.” He may be moving around the corner — possibly to the distribution center for the Los Angeles Times, which is moving out, but said, “I’d never leave this community. I couldn’t. It’s been too good to me.”

Down the street on Pacific Coast Highway, old Windsail restaurant may be in for some changes. The once elegant eatery with its sweeping ocean views is rumored to be in escrow. If the deal goes through, beachfront dining may not be on the menu. The property may be transformed into residential or commercial use.

Across the street and opposite the pier, the property now occupied by the Malibu Inn has been sold. The switch turned out to be the last straw for the adjoining Malibu Inn Liquors. After seven years, Dib Tayar has cleared out his inventory and is leaving town. “We lost a lot of business after the pier closed,” he lamented. “Our rent is still high, and it wasn’t worth it to stay.”

While many of the details have yet to be finalized, the plans are moving forward. The Banana Republic is expected to be open by Christmas and could help give the Civic Center a whole new look.

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