MONTCLAIR -- Ever since Borders Books and Music went out of the business, the 42,000-square-foot building adjacent to Montclair Plaza has sat empty. But in recent weeks, the interior has being demolished to make way for Ashley Furniture Homestore set to open in the spring.

Those involved hope the new store will spur development in the surrounding vacant buildings and the Montclair Plaza.

The seller was represented by Brad Umansky of Progressive Real Estate Partners who said the furniture store could provide a development boost, which has also seen the closure of two neighboring national retailers during the economy downturn.

"Obviously having vacancies is an eyesore to the community," he said. "Now that it is taken by such a retailer, it will help with the absorption of vacancies."

With the former Borders bookstore adjacent to the 10 Freeway it provides the new tenant with easy exposure to the public.

"It's a better use for that building, it's a great company - the largest furniture reseller, it's going to be great for the shoppers and the Montclair sales tax," Umansky said.

Ashley purchased the building and signed a long-term lease on the land. Financial terms for the sale could not be disclosed, he said.

A representative for Ashley Furniture could not be reached for comment.

Discussions about the empty bookstore started about a year and a half ago when city officials and representatives from Ashley Furniture were at a conference.


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Borders had closed in April 2011 and a month later, Ashley inquired about the property, indicating they were looking for a couple of locations in Southern California, said Steve Lustro, Community Development Director for Montclair.

"We chatted with their representative and they were very interested becoming part of the Montclair business community and left it at that," he said. "Many times in the last year we've had perspective tenants discussions end with the conversation and you never hear anything again."

Then earlier this summer, Lustro was again contacted by Ashley Furniture who told the city they were looking to move forward with the acquisition.

"We've been working with them since then with their plan for occupying the building and more recently they submitted some conceptual plans for a little of a remodel," Lustro said.

Crews have already demolished the interior of the building but Ashley will formally submitted plans soon, he said.

The goal is to have the Planning Commission review the plans for remodel by the end of January, Lustro said.

After the holidays, Ashley plans to get the tenant improvements started, he said.

But the new furniture may also give the city a boost with another development.

Lustro says the city may soon have good news to share regarding the delayed improvements at the plaza. Mall owners had indicated were going to be tearing down the former Broadway/Macy's building earlier this year. The plan was to build a "lifestyle style center" by the end of the year. The expansion would have included two or three new restaurants.

"We've been trying to schedule a meeting with owners of Montclair Plaza for about two months," Lustro said.


Reach Liset via email, call her at 909-483-8556, or find her on Twitter @DBOntarioNow.