Biz Buzz: Bed Bath and Beyond coming to Paso

After months of speculation on whether the retailer was coming to Paso Robles, Bed Bath and Beyond confirmed plans this week to open at Golden Hills Plaza by May.

Mayor Duane Picanco said he was pleased that the national retailer could be here by the summer.

“I think there’s a market for that type of merchandise and it will help fill a void here,” he said. “Another positive is there’s going to be more jobs, and I think that will help that center attract more businesses.”

The store recently hung its “Now Hiring” signs on its 25,000-square-foot building adjacent to the Lowe’s Home Improvement store, which opened in October.

The 300,000-square-foot shopping center off Highway 46 East, owned by Florida-based Regency Centers Corp., has had several potential tenants drop out.

Many retailers have rethought their nationwide expansion plans, officials have said, while others have reportedly struggled with opening new stores in the recession.

Regency project manager Ryan Nickelson cited an “inability to obtain financing” as a factor impeding store openings.

Bed Bath and Beyond re-evaluated all of its real estate deals for new locations in 2009, retailer spokeswoman Catherine Gentile said this week.

“But (it) never elected to drop out of Golden Hills Plaza,” she added.

Gentile declined to disclose how many employees are being sought for the Paso Robles store, stating company policy, but did say there will be a need for all staffing levels in transfers and new hires.

Subway and the UPS Store are the only tenants now open in the center.

In October, Sky Nails and Spa, Me-n-Ed’s Pizza and El Pollo Loco were slated to come on board, but they have since canceled those plans, Nickelson said.

Among other dropouts are Circuit City — which went bankrupt and closed nationwide — Petsmart, Starbucks Coffee, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Supercuts.

Wal-Mart also eyed the shopping center at one time, Regency officials have said, but Golden Hills doesn’t have the square footage to support it. The center is continuing negotiations with other potential tenants, which Nickelson declined to discuss until the leases are signed, he said.

— Tonya Strickland