Construction on the new-look Laurel Lane shopping center is continuing despite delays with completion anticipated in July, according to the property owner.
The site at the intersection of Laurel Lane and Augusta Street will house the new flagship location of Efren's Mexican Restaurant and in the future apartments and additional businesses in currently vacant commercial spaces, according to property owner Patrick Aurignac, who purchased the shopping center in December 2013.
Efren's, which has locations in Oceano, Santa Maria, Oxnard and Nipomo, is in the process of completing its own improvements on its 4,000-square-foot space, and could open in a couple of months at the earliest, Aurignac said.
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Overall improvements to the development, Aurignac said, also include 99 parking spaces, with new landscaping and power lines.
Separately, 17 three-bedroom apartments and a one-bedroom manager's residence are slated for an adjacent site, with the goal of completing that portion of the project in fall 2019.
"This is a really complex and long process," Aurignac said. "It might not look like we're moving forward, but we're doing a lot of paperwork behind the scenes... It was too muddy to do any work this week, and next week rain is forecast as well."
In the meantime, businesses are having to cope with the construction. Parking has been limited to the east side of the property with much of the section facing Laurel Lane now unearthed.
"I have faced some hardship with loss of customers," said Mark Roetker, owner of SLO Town Barbershop. "But this shop has been in this location since 1963. I don’t plan on going anywhere. The construction has been a pain in the you know what, but I'll be grateful when it's done."
Two additional business spaces remain vacant, and Aurignac said a waiting list exists to fill those spots.
The project was initially expected to be wrapped up in the winter, but Aurignac said it stalled after contractors discovered unexpected groundwater and had to re-engineer a retaining wall, taking two months longer than anticipated.
Construction also awaits coordination with PG&E on power lines; underground wires will be installed, Aurignac said. Developers also have faced delays due to working around drainage challenges and, more recently, rain.
Roetker said his regular customers have helped keep him afloat, and said he has a good relationship with the development team.
"I know it's a huge upgrade," Roetker said. "Eventually, it will get there. It has just been slower than expected."
Aurignac expects the new rental housing will serve working people, including young families.
"We don't have rental prices set yet," Aurignac said. "They will be whatever the market will bear."