REI looks to open a new store in SLO

The camping and outdoor recreation chain REI has filed an application for a building permit to open a store in a renovated space at the SLO Promenade, according to a city official.

After months of rumors that REI has been planning to open shop in a portion of the space formerly occupied by Forever 21, city Associate Planner Rachel Cohen confirmed that the city is reviewing a building permit proposal for tenant improvements submitted by the retailer.

Cohen said that the application recently came in and the city’s planning staff will still need to review the proposal.

Cohen also said that just because an applicant files for a building permit doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll move in.

REI site plan.jpg
A conceptual phasing plan layout shows the REI store in a July 2017 city staff report presented to the Architectural Review Commission. City of SLO

“Even if a building permit proposal is filed, that doesn’t mean an applicant will necessarily follow through,” Cohen said. “It’s in a review process. There are several iterations of review.”

REI carries a wide variety of outdoor supplies, clothing and equipment, such as tents, sleeping bags, hiking boots, jackets and other gear.

REI’s name also appeared in city planning documents dated June 13, 2017, and reviewed by the city’s Architectural Review Commission on July 17, 2017. They showed concepts for the plaza’s ongoing SLO Promenade renovation, indicating REI has long eyed a commercial space adjacent to the incoming Sprouts Farmers Market store in the shopping center.

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An REI spokeswoman, Caitlin Goettler, said in an email that the company hasn’t signed a lease, “nor have we announced any plans for a store in San Luis Obispo.”

But Goettler said REI would make an announcement when or if the current situation changes.

The SLO Promenade is owned by the The Kroenke Group, a Columbia, Missouri-based development firm, Tamatha Sloan, a property manager for the building, told The Tribune in a phone interview.

The Kroenke Group is a venture of billionaire real estate developer Stan Kroenke, who owns the Los Angeles Rams football team and several Colorado sports teams, including the Denver Nuggets; it manages about 200 shopping centers across the United States, according to a 2014 Tribune article.

Sloan said she didn’t have direct knowledge of the leasing status of the site.

The city’s 2017 staff report shows a conceptual phasing plan layout that includes a 30,385-square-foot design for Sprouts with a corner entrance (that building is under construction), and a 23,527-square-foot layout for REI adjacent to the Sprouts building, with two additional retail spaces for unidentified stores next to REI.

While significant work on the building’s tenant improvements is done, the timeline of the Sprouts opening remains unclear.

“We have not announced details of any stores opening past the end of this year,” Sprouts spokesperson Kalia Pang told The Tribune by email. “I’ll be in touch if we have news in the future.”

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