Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

Currently: 103° — Complete forecast

The Economy:

Wide open spaces, hint of optimism

At a once-thriving suburban ‘power center,’ there’s hope of new tenants and a pickup in customer traffic

Vacancies

Sam Morris

A storefront formerly occupied by Wild Oats is one of several now empty in the Stephanie Street Power Center. The store was closed after the Wild Oats chain was bought by Whole Foods.

The parking lot is so vast and so empty, neighborhood kids could play stickball here.

Back in the go-go years, this commercial plaza at Warm Springs Road and Stephanie Street in Henderson was a bustling retail bazaar, a strip of concrete that could fulfill so many wants and needs — shoes, carpets, clothes, books, giant televisions, hot tubs, fatty foods, pharmaceuticals.

But for too many of us, unquenchable human desires were temporarily sated with goods bought with borrowed money.

There’s no more to be had.

Both unemployment and foreclosure filings were up in September, as the valley’s descent continued.

So this plaza, known as the “Stephanie Street Power Center,” sits half-empty, with a whole slew of empty storefronts at its south end.

Wild Oats, the high-end grocer, was bought by Whole Foods, which closed this location. It still pays rent. Longs Drugs was bought by CVS, which then shuttered the store. Copeland Sports shut its outlet here. Shoe Pavilion and Circuit City went bankrupt, victims of capitalism’s Darwinian churn.

Penny Mendlovic of C.B. Richard Ellis, which leases space for the landlord, Harsch Investment Properties, says a turnaround is coming for the plaza.

“All good things are happening,” she says. “We do have vacancies, but we are negotiating with exciting new users that we hope to announce soon.”

A restaurant space that has been vacant for at least four years could be filled in 2011, she says.

The plaza’s remaining stores, which include such blue chip retailers as Old Navy and Pier 1, had a slow but steady stream of customers one morning last week.

Paddock Pools was empty of customers, however. The store had shut its doors in January only to reopen in September — a hopeful sign.

Rich Mazanec is a preternaturally cheerful salesman for Paddock, who moved here two years ago from Cleveland because he’s in the pool business and figured the Sun Belt is a better place to sell pools than the Midwest, with its heavy snows.

Which would be true if the economy here weren’t so depressed.

“They were dropping like flies,” Rich Mazanec says of the vacancies in the plaza.

“I was hoping you were a customer,” he adds, laughing.

Because the store reopened in September, it missed the busy summer season, but Mazanec hopes things will pick up before Christmas; it sells lots of Christmas wares, too.

Mazanec says he’s still happy he moved to the valley because there are far more opportunities than back East, he says. “There’s opportunity if you’re a go-getter.”

Pier 1, the upscale home decor store, smells of scented candle wax. It smells like prosperity.

“The Age of Aquarius” is playing on the speakers.

Harmony and understanding

Sympathy and trust abounding

No more falsehoods or derisions

Golden living dreams of visions.

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