ANTIOCH -- There's a new owner of Somersville Towne Center -- and the New York-based investor is looking to spruce things up immediately.
Time Equities Inc. purchased the 48-year-old shopping mall from Macerich Co. for $12.3 million, officials said this week.
The firm plans to spend at least $1 million on upgrades to the interior and exterior to give the center a fresher look, said Ami Ziff, the company's director of national retail. The company is finalizing a plan for the improvements, he said.
"We saw that there is a lot of upside. A lot of strong retailers are already located there and the area offers a great quality of life," Ziff said.
During a thorough walk-through before purchasing the 283,289-square-foot property off Somersville Road, the company found that the mall had a 74 percent occupancy rate.
"Hopefully, we can reinvigorate it. That is our goal -- to offer a more enjoyable experience and offer a wider variety that better serves the community and the folks that live there," Ziff said.
Time Equities found the property on real estate listing site Auction.com a couple months ago. It was marketed by Palmer Capital.
Time Equities, as well as its leasing firm, has already reached out to the city.
"We're looking forward to hearing about the plans to redevelop and update the mall," said Brian Nunnally, the city's economic development analyst. "I think both parties see a prime opportunity to transform Somersville Towne Center and strengthen its position as a regional draw."
The purchase also confirms Antioch's optimism that the local economy is rebounding because a firm is willing to make such a large investment, Nunnally said.
"Antioch is a thriving community that has recently seen an influx of newcomers and business to add to the vibrancy of the area," he said.
Towne Center includes anchor tenants Macy's, Sears and Fallas, all of which own their respective buildings. Pleasanton-based ACRE Investment Co. owns the 90,000-square-foot building where Gottschalks was located before the retailer went bankrupt in 2009.
John Sechser, a retail broker with Transwestern, said the move "is exciting but not surprising" and it can be a good fit for a company with creativity and vision.
Some of the mall's more than 50 tenants include Starbucks Coffee, Champs Sports, Forever 21, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, 24 Hour Fitness and Foot Locker. Spinoso Real Estate Group will locally manage and lease the mall.
Somersville Towne Center has faced some challenges over the years as residents have moved farther east and commuters don't want to double back to shop after hours of driving, Sechser said.
The expansion of Highway 4 and planned residential development to the mall's south and west, along with foreclosed homes that are being occupied again, will create a new demand, he said.
Realtors say solidifying business at the mall could boost interest in filling vacancies at surrounding shopping plazas as the western part of Antioch has been hard hit by national chains closing and buildings remaining vacant.
Macerich, which owns Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, had owned Somersville Towne Center since 1986. The original Somersville Towne Center, then called County East Mall, opened in April 1966 as a collection of open-air shops. It was enclosed during a renovation in 1989.
The mall underwent a $24 million renovation in 2004, with the bulk of the money going to building the two-story, 110,000-square-foot Macy's. Other fixes included replacing parquet floor with tiles, a new paint job and single-stall restrooms with changing tables.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.