Before it closed three years ago, Roller King was a landmark attraction for skaters. Now the refurbished Modesto building, renamed Cornerstone Plaza, is trying to attract business tenants.
"It's a great location," said owner Andrew Katakis, a Modesto real estate investor. "It's really the first building that faces Briggsmore off (the Highway 99) exit."
At more than 28,000 square feet, the structure has received a major face lift, inside and out, and more renovation is to come.
A new ramp connected to Briggsmore is being built to give shoppers direct access to the plaza, and an additional building of 7,800 square feet is planned.
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Katakis bought the property for about $2.2 million. He's spent an additional $2.8 million remodeling, improving the site, building the ramp and designing the second building.
"The timing took a lot longer than we planned. We would have expected it to be leased out and done by now," Katakis said.
Since buying Roller King in July 2005, however, Modesto's real estate market has tumbled and its economy has suffered.
Finding tenants to lease large spaces has become more difficult, Katakis said. The two businesses that have moved in since renovations were finished in September, Ames Tools and Telecontact, fill less than half of the old Roller King building.
So, Katakis has revised his plans and is creating an interior mall in the building's center. That will provide space for seven small retail shops.
"I'm investing more money to make (Cornerstone Plaza) different from what everyone else is offering," Katakis explained.
Reconfiguring the interior to create the mall will cost him an additional $500,000.
The mall's atrium will be surrounded by spaces for businesses such as salons, boutiques and specialty stores. Each shop will have a distinct storefront. Overhead skylights will illuminate the mall with natural light, and there will be landscaped planters in the common areas.
The shops will range in size from 644 to 1,362 square feet and be offered for lease for $1.25 to $1.85 per square foot per month.
"I need to get three or four good tenants to commit to it, and then we'll go ahead with it," Katakis said.
Already for lease elsewhere in the building is about 7,900 square feet of commercial and warehouse space, with lease prices up to $2.15 per square foot per month.
Good site for a restaurant
The second building Katakis plans for the site is expected to cost $500,000 for the exterior shell.
"It would be great for a restaurant," said Katakis, noting that it will face Briggsmore. "There's not a lot of retail space available with that exposure."
Katakis is using two Modesto companies, L Street Architects and Huff Construction, to design and build Cornerstone Plaza.
Modesto City Councilwoman Kristin Olsen said that completion of the plaza will benefit the community.
"The landscaping will improve the aesthetics on a key corridor in Modesto. That was a key element that convinced me to back this project," Olsen said.
She said turning the old skating rink into a shopping area is a creative reuse of an existing building.
"As the struggle continues in Modesto to achieve an appropriate balance between growth and farmland preservation, we need to encourage the birth of more projects like the Cornerstone Plaza," Olsen said.
She said the project also "stimulates local economic development at an important time through work generated in its design and construction as well as jobs provided by new businesses located within the project."
Katakis, who lives in Modesto, said he has been developing and refurbishing real estate for 15 years. That includes about 500 foreclosed houses in Stanislaus County. He's also rejuvenated assorted commercial buildings, including the old Modesto Bowl on 15th Street, which he turned into an office complex.
"I've always invested in property that needs a lot of work," Katakis said.
For more information about Cornerstone Plaza, contact Brekke Real Estate at 571-7230.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2196.