Biz Buzz: Lowe’s store set to open in Paso Robles center

The first tenant in Paso Robles’ newest shopping center — the approximately 300,000-square-foot Golden Hills Plaza off Highway 46 East — is set to open at 6 a.m. Friday.

Home improvement store Lowe’s will have a traditional ribbon-cutting on Oct. 29, officials said, followed by a week-long schedule of store tours, activities and promotions.

Lowe’s will cover 169,112 square feet, include a garden center and employ about 115 people.

Construction continues at the site with a slew of smaller storefronts expected to open over the next 60 to 90 days, said Paul Loubet, vice president of investments with the Jacksonville, Fla.-based owner, Regency Centers Corp.

Those on board include The UPS Store, Subway, Sky Nails & Spa, Me & Ed’s Pizza and El Pollo Loco, Loubet said.

Bed Bath and Beyond, a second anchor store that has long been tied to the project, isn’t a guarantee, but “we’re still working to secure (it).

It’s just the economic times. But they’re a good tenant and a good draw,” Loubet said. If it sticks with the project, its opening could come in 2010.

The multimillion-dollar center could ultimately hold up to 30 tenants in 11 or 12 buildings by 2012, he added, and ideally include clothing, grocery and sit-down restaurants.

Since Regency acquired the land in 2007 and began building in 2008, several potential tenants have come and gone.

Among the dropouts are Circuit City — which went bankrupt and closed nationwide — PetSmart, Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill and SuperCuts, all citing concerns about expanding during the recession, Loubet said.

Wal-Mart also eyed the shopping center twice, Loubet added, but Golden Hills Plaza doesn’t have the square footage to support it. Wal-Mart currently has a Paso Robles location off Niblick Road, but corporate officials want to add a grocery component and are looking for a larger space, Loubet said.

Wal-Mart officials could not be reached to confirm if the giant retailer is looking to move or expand in Paso Robles.

Parking at Golden Hills Plaza is also set up, with about 1,000 spaces ready and 300 more on order.

“We want it to be very walkable,” Loubet said, so various pedestrian walkways, courtyards and bike racks have also been built among the native landscaping.

As of June, Regency Centers owned 409 retail properties with 54.7 million square feet in markets throughout the United States. Since 2000, Regency has developed 194 shopping centers representing an investment of more than $3 billion, according to the company.

— Tonya Strickland

Concussion testing program for athletes

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and San Luis Sports Therapy have joined forces to conduct concussion tests for athletes at seven high schools in the county this year.

Under the ImPACT Concussion Testing program, a baseline is conducted at the start of the school year. If a student athlete then receives a head injury during competition, physicians will be able to compare the baseline test with follow-up exams to better understand the extent of the injury and judge when the athlete can resume play.

Participating high schools are Arroyo Grande, Mission Prep, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Templeton. More than 2,000 student athletes were expected to be tested.

Dr. Otto Schueckler, a sports medicine specialist with Central Coast Orthopedics, is the program’s local medical consultant.

— Tribune staff