Staff Writer- Sacramento Business Journal
Mar 14, 2014, 6:41am PDT
The rehab project at a formerly rundown Rancho Cordova shopping center continues, with three new businesses poised to open by the end of summer.

Ethan Conradwho bought the Rivergate Center at Coloma Road and Sunrise Boulevard last year, said leasing is nearly complete for spaces created from what was an 83,000-square-foot Kmart store in the center that closed earlier this year.

“We’re working to put a new façade on it and totally change the feel of the building,” said Conrad, whose company, Ethan Conrad Properties, specializes in buying properties with some issues and improving their status.

Also at Rivergate, Sportman’s Warehouse is making tenant improvements for a 40,000-square-foot spot that was part of the Kmart location, and Conrad said he’s days away from finalizing a lease for a grocery store in the center.

By month’s end, a pet products store is also expected to sign a lease, while Chick-fil-A is opening soon in the center as well.

Conrad is also building a new, 5,400-square-foot standalone building in the center that’s already got two likely tenants: an up-and-coming national pizza chain and a popular Mexican fast casual restaurant.

Combined, those new leases will give the center about 90 percent occupancy, up from about 70 percent when Conrad bought it, he said. And the overall quality of the businesses in the center has gone up, to an appreciative reception from shoppers and city officials, he added.

“When those three tenants are up and running, you’re going to see quadruple the number of cars,” Conrad said. Holdover tenants like Jaspers Giant Hamburgers and newer ones like Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Dollar Tree have boosted traffic at the other end of the center, he said.

“It’s a basic principle, when you have a center that looks nice and has good tenants, you attract more good tenants and traffic, and you’ll do well,” he said.