Riverside Plaza gains new owner

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Nathan Boschen -- The Riverside Plaza, has been sold to an Arizona-based company called ‘Vestar’ for $84.8 million. The addition of new tenants is scheduled to begin sometime after the holiday season early 2013.
Nathan Boschen — The Riverside Plaza, has been sold to an Arizona-based company called ‘Vestar’ for $84.8 million. The addition of new tenants is scheduled to begin sometime after the holiday season early 2013.

The Riverside Plaza, previously owned by The Westminster Funds, has been sold to Vestar Development Company and UBS Global Asset Management for $84.8 million.

The plaza, located off of the Central Avenue exit off the 91 Freeway, is a 57-year-old shopping center that was an indoor mall.

Ten years ago, the indoor shopping center was renovated to sport a new look. Utilizing the space in the 35-acre lot, the plaza became an outdoor collection of department stores, shops, stands and restaurants.

Vestar, a Phoenix-based real estate firm specializing in the development and management of open-air shopping an recreation centers, finalized the purchase of the property Sept. 26, according to a press release.

“It’s a good investment for a company that specializes in a marketplace like that,” said Jackson Brown, junior psychology major. “With how the economy has been doing, maybe a change in owner will be good.”

Since the renovation 10 years ago, the Riverside Plaza has gone through a few changes while not wandering too far from the original layout and design.

The department store Gottschalks turned into a Forever 21 that occupies three stories. The fast food restaurant Jack in the Box also went through a renovation, changing its appearance to sport a more modern look and feel.

Smaller stores within the plaza’s center do not regularly change but are prone to seeing new retail stores and food chains come and go.

With different types of stores, the plaza is a popular place for students.

“I go to Chipotle and Panera Bread, the plaza has a lot of college-friendly food places,” Brown said.

Not all stores have seen positive change throughout the years. Borders Group Inc., a bookstore chain, closed its doors last year after the company underwent liquidation. The building it occupied still remains vacant.

Other spaces remain vacant as well, allowing room for change in the overall feel of the plaza and a change in dynamics.

“There are a few things I don’t like,” Brown said. “It’s not traffic friendly, you have to find parking depending on the time zones, and (the) atmosphere seems really dry, they try to throw on events every now and then but it never really seems to work out.”

According to a press release from Vestar, any changes made to the plaza are to occur after 2012. This is to prevent any kind of interference with the flow of business during the approaching holiday season.

Although no specific building plans have been announced, Vestar has said that there are a few stores they have shown immense interest in keeping.

Stores they plan to keep on location is Forever 21 and the Regal Cinemas Theater, which is one of the plaza’s main attractions.

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