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Dying Silicon Valley mall is bought, life sciences conversion beckons

MOUNTAIN VIEW — A dying South Bay shopping mall has been bought by a veteran developer that aims to convert the big-box retail buildings in the center into spaces to entice, life science, biotech and tech companies.

Charleston Plaza, located in Mountain View and Palo Alto, has been purchased by Presidio Bay Ventures, according to documents filed on April 1 with the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office.

San Francisco-based Presidio Bay Ventures, acting through an affiliate, paid $71.8 million for Charleston Plaza, whose addresses include 2400 E. Charleston Road in Mountain View,  the county property records show.

The shopping center, located at a prominent spot near the interchange of U.S. Highway 101 and Rengstorff Avenue, has suffered a string of exits or shutdowns of some of its primary retailers in recent years.

Last year, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy shut their doors at Charleston Plaza. REI Co-op relocated to Sunnyvale, taking over a shuttered Toys ‘R Us store site.

In recent years, consumers have ramped up online shopping, a trend that unleashed a retail apocalypse that was exacerbated by coronavirus-linked economic woes.

“Our plan specific to Charleston Plaza entails redeveloping the three large, big-box structures formerly occupied by Bed, Bath and Beyond, REI and Best Buy,” K. Cyrus Sanandaji, managing director and co-founder of Presidio Bay Ventures, said in comments emailed to this news organization.

The mall’s new owners intend to retain some of the smaller retailers whose ongoing operations could serve life science or biotech workers who would be based at the site if the developer’s plans bear fruit.

The complex could become a biotech campus with ready-made retail and restaurant merchants on site.

“The Charleston Plaza deal will create dynamic synergies between the surrounding and historical industrial and research uses in the greater Stanford Research Park submarket and the vibrant community-serving retail uses that remain in the shopping center,” Sanandaji said.

Starbucks, Chipotle and Supercuts are among those smaller retailers that could provide amenities for potential life science tenants at the site.

“Presidio Bay will look to reposition the three large boxes into state-of-the-art research and development lab facilities,” Sanandaji said.

The general plan for the shopping center would allow uses other than retail.

“We will be marketing the space to a broad array of industrial, research and development, and lab tenants with interesting and exciting new innovative technologies that are looking for space of this scale,” Sanandaji said.

The available space could be 100,000 square feet or more since the sites would be primarily big-box buildings.

“Some examples of different types of users include autonomous vehicle tech, food and agriculture tech, battery tech, life sciences and biotech, robotics and energy tech,” Sanandaji said.

Presidio Bay’s gambit that it can weave together tech- and biotech-oriented uses with on-site retail could create a unique advanced technology campus at the site to replace the fading mall.

“These combined uses, located in one larger campus setting, will enhance the experience for our future end users, the retail tenants, and the surrounding community by creating a highly amenitized destination that benefits from both onsite and offsite consumer demand,” Sanandaji said.


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