By Kiet Do

MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX) — A prominent shopping plaza in Mountain View may soon have a new tenant after an exodus of large retail stores left the property mostly vacant throughout the holiday season.

Last year, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and REI all closed their stores at the Charleston Plaza, located along Charleston Road and Highway 101.

“These are new and challenging times,” said Peter Katz, president and CEO of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.

The ongoing pandemic has upended consumer spending habits and behavior, forcing retailers to adjust as customers have largely avoided brick and mortar stores and flocked to e-commerce sites.

REI has relocated the Mountain View location to Sunnyvale, following the company’s posted loss of $34 million dollars in 2020.

At Best Buy, online sales boomed but the company still laid off 5,000 retail workers last year and has closed more than 60 stores since 2019.

Bed Bath & Beyond is on pace to complete closure of 200 stores nationwide this year.

Two Bay Area locations in Campbell and the Great Mall in Milpitas will be closed by the end of February.

“If you notice a number of the businesses that have gone out, have been closing a number of their stores, it’s not necessarily a Charleston Plaza issue,” said Katz.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost them but we have an opportunity ahead of us to repopulate the space as best we can,” said John Lang, economic vitality manager for the city of Mountain View.

According to Lang, who has been in discussions with the property owner, a new tenant could soon move in that would take advantage of the parcel’s zoning for “light industrial,” which includes research and development and light manufacturing.

“Certainly there’s a movement in the marketplace on the industrial side. A little less movement on retail, commercial uses. So we’ll see where the market will take that conversation but there was an intent to have it tenanted within the next six months,” Lang said.

The vacant portion of the parcel measures roughly six acres and the current building has a footprint of approximately a quarter million square feet. The parcel is not zoned for residential. To change that would require “significant” effort, including an amendment to the city’s general plan, Lang said.

Katz says the region has not built adequate housing over the years and that we are now “paying the price.” Katz supports a live-work-play approach to redeveloping Charleston Plaza.

“We don’t want to see just office space or just retail or whatever. We want to see this integration of all these different facets,” Katz said.