News

Mountain View's Charleston Plaza faces retail exodus as Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and others leave town

The empty parking lot and the now-vacant Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and REI stores in the Charleston Plaza in Mountain View on Dec. 21, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

One of Mountain View's most prominent shopping centers abutting Highway 101 is looking like a ghost town lately, with multiple large retailers closing down or relocating over the course of 2021.

Signs on the windows of the vacant REI store read "We moved to Sunnyvale!" in the Charleston Plaza in Mountain View on Dec. 21, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

It started with Bed Bath & Beyond, which shut down its location on E. Charleston Road early in the year. Just months later, REI announced it was relocating its store to Sunnyvale, and soon after that Best Buy announced it was closing its store as of the end of October.

Local residents are lamenting the loss of retail, and worries are swirling over social media that the closures are a sign that the plaza may soon redevelop into offices or even housing. But city officials say the property is expected to remain a shopping center, and that the property owner is already on the hunt for new tenants.

In the case of Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond, both companies have announced this year that they are cutting down the number of store locations across the country. In February, Best Buy revealed it had laid off 5,000 workers and planned to close more "large format" stores like the one on Charleston Road. The company saw a surge in digital sales, and is revamping its workforce to better accommodate things like shipping and home delivery orders.

Bed Bath & Beyond announced in January that it was closing 200 locations by the end of the year, including a short list of 43 on the chopping block by the end of February. That short list included the Mountain View location.

A mark is left by the old Bed Bath & Beyond sign on the front of this building in Charleston Plaza in Mountain View on Dec. 21, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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For REI, the situation is different. The company put out a press release that it sought to relocate to an even larger location to "offer a wide assortment of quality gear and expertise for the South Bay's most popular outdoor activities." The new location is at 130 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, the former location of a Toys R Us that closed in 2018.

The large retail leases in the Charleston Plaza were expiring this year, according to Kimberly Thomas, assistant to the city manager. Real estate brokers representing the property owner told the city there was a "mutual interest" not to renew the leases, and that there is an effort to replace them.

"The property owner is interested in securing new tenants consistent with the existing zoning, and the property is being advertised and marketed for commercial or industrial uses consistent with the land uses allowed in the City's (industrial) district," Thomas said.

The existing zoning for the property is industrial and allows for limited manufacturing, research and development uses, but the general plan designation for the area is a hybrid of both industrial and "regional commercial" uses. The latter encompasses retail stores that are designed to provide specialty goods and a "wide range" of merchandise that requires a broad regional customer base, according to the city.

Only PetSmart and Best Buy store names remain on the Charleston Plaza sign in Mountain View on Dec. 16, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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Kevin Forestieri is an assistant editor with the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac. He joined the Voice in 2014 and has reported on schools, housing, crime and health. Read more >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Mountain View's Charleston Plaza faces retail exodus as Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and others leave town

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Dec 22, 2021, 1:07 pm

One of Mountain View's most prominent shopping centers abutting Highway 101 is looking like a ghost town lately, with multiple large retailers closing down or relocating over the course of 2021.

It started with Bed Bath & Beyond, which shut down its location on E. Charleston Road early in the year. Just months later, REI announced it was relocating its store to Sunnyvale, and soon after that Best Buy announced it was closing its store as of the end of October.

Local residents are lamenting the loss of retail, and worries are swirling over social media that the closures are a sign that the plaza may soon redevelop into offices or even housing. But city officials say the property is expected to remain a shopping center, and that the property owner is already on the hunt for new tenants.

In the case of Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond, both companies have announced this year that they are cutting down the number of store locations across the country. In February, Best Buy revealed it had laid off 5,000 workers and planned to close more "large format" stores like the one on Charleston Road. The company saw a surge in digital sales, and is revamping its workforce to better accommodate things like shipping and home delivery orders.

Bed Bath & Beyond announced in January that it was closing 200 locations by the end of the year, including a short list of 43 on the chopping block by the end of February. That short list included the Mountain View location.

For REI, the situation is different. The company put out a press release that it sought to relocate to an even larger location to "offer a wide assortment of quality gear and expertise for the South Bay's most popular outdoor activities." The new location is at 130 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, the former location of a Toys R Us that closed in 2018.

The large retail leases in the Charleston Plaza were expiring this year, according to Kimberly Thomas, assistant to the city manager. Real estate brokers representing the property owner told the city there was a "mutual interest" not to renew the leases, and that there is an effort to replace them.

"The property owner is interested in securing new tenants consistent with the existing zoning, and the property is being advertised and marketed for commercial or industrial uses consistent with the land uses allowed in the City's (industrial) district," Thomas said.

The existing zoning for the property is industrial and allows for limited manufacturing, research and development uses, but the general plan designation for the area is a hybrid of both industrial and "regional commercial" uses. The latter encompasses retail stores that are designed to provide specialty goods and a "wide range" of merchandise that requires a broad regional customer base, according to the city.

Comments

Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Dec 22, 2021 at 2:15 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Dec 22, 2021 at 2:15 pm

"worries are swirling over social media that the closures are a sign that the plaza may soon redevelop into [...] housing."

What a horrible statement about the priorities of some Mountain View residents that, during a catastrophic housing crisis, redeveloping a big box retail site into homes for people is a "worr[ying]" thought.


Mr. T
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Dec 22, 2021 at 3:58 pm
Mr. T, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Dec 22, 2021 at 3:58 pm

Is MTV taxation and regulation, compared to SV contributing factors?


Matt
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2021 at 6:18 pm
Matt, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 22, 2021 at 6:18 pm

Nite that the Banfield Veterinary Clinic is also leaving the PetSmart in January (moving into strip mall by Costco). I would not be surprised if that decision was related to PetSmart looking to leave soon also.


Christopher Chiang
Registered user
North Bayshore
on Dec 22, 2021 at 6:56 pm
Christopher Chiang, North Bayshore
Registered user
on Dec 22, 2021 at 6:56 pm

Miss REI, its past Charleston location by the freeway was very convenient. It's new Sunnyvale location is far from any freeway and is across the street from Dick's Sporting Goods, another fine sporting store, but they are going to cannibalize each other's business.

With Best Buy on Charleston gone, I hope more people will visit Video Only that is across the street from that Charleston plaza. Video Only has equally great deal on TVs and expert knowledge. Web Link

There is so very few retail stores able to keep up that much square footage. Link to a list of retail stores by square footage: Web Link


lan
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2021 at 8:38 pm
lan, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 22, 2021 at 8:38 pm

"...worries are swirling over social media that the closures are a sign that the plaza may soon redevelop into offices or even housing. But city officials say the property is expected to remain a shopping center, and that the property owner is already on the hunt for new tenants.."

It's about time this was cleared up. Every employee that I spoke with at the remaining stores said that housing was the reason for the store closures. And yes MV needs more housing, MV also needs commerce, retail stores, places for those of us who live here to shop. Besides, would rather have larger stores right next to the freeway than some kid's bedroom window; imagine breathing in all that clean auto exhaust. And housing on that street would be catastrophic for traffic.


Peter
Registered user
North Bayshore
on Dec 22, 2021 at 11:08 pm
Peter, North Bayshore
Registered user
on Dec 22, 2021 at 11:08 pm

Thank you very much. I enjoyed how this article presented information from multiple store's perspectives. Well done.


John
Registered user
North Whisman
on Dec 23, 2021 at 10:11 am
John, North Whisman
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2021 at 10:11 am

"The existing zoning ... allows for ... research and development uses"

>>Tell me Google is moving in without telling me Google is moving in.


LongResident
Registered user
another community
on Dec 23, 2021 at 3:24 pm
LongResident, another community
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2021 at 3:24 pm

How about Amazon uses the big box buildings for a warehouse and a Drone distribution hub.....


MyOpinion
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Dec 24, 2021 at 6:44 am
MyOpinion, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2021 at 6:44 am

Comparing Dick’s Sporting Goods with REI like comparing Macy’s to Nordstrom. REI is very expensive, different demographic.


RyanV
Registered user
another community
on Dec 24, 2021 at 8:21 am
RyanV, another community
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2021 at 8:21 am

Being in Los Altos I'm impacted most by the loss of the PetsHotel in PetSmart. They shut that down already more than a month ago I think.

We are severely underserved in the Bay area with kennels. I know, first world problem. The new PetSmart with PetsHotel is all the way down in Almaden part of San Jose. Not close at all to the old location.


Old Steve
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Dec 27, 2021 at 8:42 am
Old Steve, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Dec 27, 2021 at 8:42 am

Highest and best use folks! Since in store retail has been down, stores did likely not want to pay increased rent landlord sought. So leases run out and stores close or move. Land may get sold, who knows. Our old mechanics shop sold several years ago, but the building is still vacant. If you want to keep local, in store options, you need to shop local and in-store.


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