Biz Beat

New owners of Century Center want to woo Trader Joe’s to east Modesto with your help

Signs asking the public to contact Trader Joe’s are posted along the corners of Century Center on Oakdale Road in Modesto, Calif. Jan. 3, 2018.
Signs asking the public to contact Trader Joe’s are posted along the corners of Century Center on Oakdale Road in Modesto, Calif. Jan. 3, 2018. mrowland@modbee.com

The new owners of Century Center would love to see a Trader Joe’s come into the east Modesto shopping complex. And they’re betting a lot of you do, too.

So they’ve gone as far as erecting signs in front of the shopping center on Oakdale Road asking the public to contact Trader Joe’s about opening at the site. For decades the complex was anchored by Gottschalks department store and Raley’s supermarket before their departures several years ago. But since then it has struggled with vacancies.

Raley’s, which moved out in 2012 after opening its larger location in Village One, finally relinquished the lease it had in the complex at the end of 2018. Before that it had been paying for the vacant space and maintaining its non-compete clause barring other grocery stores from moving into the center.

But now with that restriction lifted, the center’s new owners have big plans to both renovate and attract new retailers. That includes wooing Trader Joe’s, which already has a location in northwest Modesto near Vintage Faire Mall.

Other planned improvements include major facade work to modernize the look and feel of the shopping complex, which debuted in 1979. Long-time tenants Round Table Pizza and Torii Japanese Steakhouse will undergo updating and major renovations. The center owners will also completely recondition the parking lot and upgrade to LED lighting.

Century Center facade 2



New York-based commercial real estate firm Somera Road, Inc. and local investing group Graceada Partners, LLC. purchased the 214,389-square-foot retail center in November for $12.25 million. Already they have three new tenants lined up to move in: Satellite Healthcare, Golden Valley Healthcare and Taqueria El Maguey.

Ryan Swehla, who leads the Central Valley real estate investment group Graceada Partners along with fellow NAI Benchmark principal Joe Muratore, said the new tenants plus updates should help to return the center to its status as a retail epicenter for east Modesto. They hope that will include Trader Joe’s, and it’s not all just wishful thinking. He said they’ve been in contact with Trader Joe’s representatives and begun discussions with the company.

“We are taking a very hands-on approach to recruiting them to the center. We posted the signs to generate community feedback to Trader Joe’s expressing the strong demand that we know exists. We are in early discussions with them although there is by no means certainty around their interest in locating there. But we know Trader Joe’s listens to their customers,” Swehla said.

The signs, posted before the holidays, read, “Do you want to see Trader Joe’s here? If so, please let them know: www.traderjoes.com/contact-us/location-request.” The large white placards, which use the Trader Joe’s red company logo, are posted at the north and south ends of the center along Oakdale Road.

Mr Century Center 2
Signs asking the public to contact Trader Joe’s are posted along the corners of Century Center on Oakdale Road in Modesto, Calif. Jan. 3, 2018. Marijke Rowland mrowland@modbee.com



Trader Joe’s opened its Dale Road in 1993, and it remains a popular and busy shopping draw. Ask anyone who has stood in line at the Modesto TJ’s on any given Sunday and you’ll understand the desire for another location in the city.

For decades Century Center, on the opposite side of town, had one of the few large grocery stores on the east side with Raley’s, attracting residents from the populous nearby neighborhoods. The complex currently has 10 restaurants, ranging from long-running spots like Ridgway’s and the Ice Cream Co. to Jamba Juice and Pizza Hut. The new taqueria will move into space next to Vision First Optometry. The two healthcare centers will move into space near the back of the complex.

Graceada Partners and Somera Road representatives said they’re excited about the center’s future prospects.

“With these new tenants and updates, Century Center is quickly becoming the mixed use, lifestyle center that we envisioned when purchasing the property,” Swehla said. “Overall we are excited for the rejuvenation of this once bustling retail epicenter of east Modesto.”

Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs multiple times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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