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Customers enter the Borders bookstore on Friday, March 18, 2011, in Pleasant Hill, Calif. Borders is set to close an additional 28 stores on top of the 200 stores already set to close due to reorganization under bankruptcy protection. A manager confirmed that Borders in Pleasant Hill is scheduled to be closed. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

PLEASANT HILL -- A golf superstore will open next year in the former Borders Books space downtown, plugging a sizable gap in the city's retail base.

Austin, Texas-based Golfsmith plans to move into the 25,000-square-foot building at 120 Crescent Drive. The city issued a permit for interior demolition late last month. Golfsmith would not disclose the opening date, but the store is expected to open in the first quarter of 2012.

"As Golfsmith continues to grow, we are expanding many of our older, smaller stores into larger, more experiential, inspiring store formats. This particular location is large enough to provide a better golf experience for our customers in the area," Adrian Gonzalez, vice president for retail growth and development, wrote in an email.

The store will include a large putting green and four custom-fitting studios where customers can have their golf swing analyzed by computer. A 10,00-square-foot Golfsmith store on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Walnut Creek has been open since 2003. That store will remain open until further notice, according to Gonzalez.

The Pleasant Hill Borders, which was an anchor in the downtown shopping center, was one of more than 200 stores to close earlier this year as part of the company's bankruptcy reorganization. The prime space at the corner of Crescent Drive and Contra Costa Boulevard has been empty since last spring.

Borders was one of the city's top 25 sales tax generators, but the loss of the store also likely had a ripple effect on nearby shops, said Kelly Calhoun, economic development manager.

"So it's more than just the sales tax. It can be the additional foot traffic that you don't have because of that vacancy," she said.

This year, Big 5 Sporting Goods, buybuy BABY, a second Ross Dress for Less and a Togo's Sandwiches opened in Pleasant Hill. A salon is expected to open in the downtown in December, leaving five vacancies in the shopping center. In addition to Golfsmith, a new Safeway and an In-N-Out Burger are expected to open in 2012.

"We think Pleasant Hill just continues to get better. We're certainly on that retail radar screen and moved considerably upmarket in the last few years," Calhoun said. "Businesses that at one time would have only looked at higher-end markets like Walnut Creek are now looking at Pleasant Hill."

City leaders have made economic development a priority. In September, the council approved spending up to $130,000 this fiscal year to support small businesses and shore up the city's tax base.

Contact Lisa P. White at 925-943-8011.

Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.