Pasadena Crossroads tries again Expansion project brings new stores


At Pasadena Crossroads, a supermarket is expanding into empty space and a new, undisclosed tenant is expected to fill another vacant slot.

Across the street, a gas station closed for 15 months is scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt. And a tenant is on the way for a building vacated by Farm Fresh supermarket at the shopping center behind the gas station.

Within six months, most of the vacant storefronts clustered at the busy intersection of Ritchie Highway and Jumpers Hole Road should be filled, according to leasing agents and owners.

At Pasadena Crossroads, which changed its name from Jumpers Mall in 1990, Basics -- soon to become Metro Food Market -- is expanding into space formerly occupied by Lionel Kiddie City, a toy store.

Basics had been looking to expand and quickly moved to gain the extra space after Kiddie City closed about three months ago, said John Ryder, president of Basics/Metro.

The supermarket's expansion should be finished by spring.

The expansion can only help the supermarket "and the shopping center," said Donald Hooper, whose Connecticut-based Hooper Co. took over the shopping center seven years ago and overhauled its imaged.

As a mall with about 25 small stores, Jumpers had suffered from increased competition along commercially saturated Ritchie Highway.

When the Hooper Co. took it over, the mall was changed to a strip-shopping center. What used to be a mall was transformed into Burlington Coat Factory, Drug Emporium and a third outlet that closed this year.

My House, a home-furnishing store with discount and upscale items for the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room, opened three years ago as part of an experiment in specialty retailing by its owners, New Jersey-based Jamesway Corp. But the outlet never caught on with shoppers and never became profitable.

The Book Market Inc., a no-frills bookstore which offered 250,000 books for under $10, opened several months later in the space formerly occupied by My House. But the bookstore has moved.

"The bookstore was a temporary thing until the new tenant could take possession," said Mr. Hooper, noting the bookstore's modus operandi is to fill vacant space, sell as many discount books as it can and move out once a landlord finds a permanent tenant.

Mr. Hooper wouldn't identify the new tenant, but said he expected it to start working on the space around Christmas and be moved in by spring.

Early next year, Exxon will submit the necessary applications to the county to begin the permit process for its Ritchie Highway site cater-cornered across Ritchie Highway from Pasadena Crossroads, said Kate Corrigan, a Houston spokeswoman for the gas company.

"We plan to build a new station on the site after the required permits are obtained," she said.

Ms. Corrigan declined to say what will happen to a Chevron station it acquired this year and converted into an Exxon station. The station sits on a small plot of land directly across Jumpers Hole Road from where the new station will be built.

The building in the shopping center behind Exxon, once home to a Farm Fresh supermarket but vacant since December, should soon be filled.

"There's a lot of interest in the store and it should not be empty for another month," said Howard Shapiro, a leasing agent handling the transaction for Ames, which owns the empty store.

"There are a number of offers on the table," Mr. Shapiro said.

But with Basics expanding into a 65,000-square-foot supermarket, he said, the tenant will not be in the grocery business.

The slot likely will be filled by a national retailer or nonretail outlet, such as a health club, Mr. Shapiro said.

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