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Goodbye, vacant buildings: New shops, food on the way to downtown Atascadero

Demolition for the mixed-use La Plaza development began on El Camino Real on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Crews demolished a long-vacant Jack in the Box, seen here, and an old beauty supply store just across the street from Sunken Gardens.
Demolition for the mixed-use La Plaza development began on El Camino Real on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Crews demolished a long-vacant Jack in the Box, seen here, and an old beauty supply store just across the street from Sunken Gardens. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Work on the long-planned La Plaza project planned for downtown Atascadero is underway as crews demolished two buildings on the soon-to-be-developed site last week.

The mixed-use facility is to be built on a 1.83-acre site on El Camino Real between Entrada Avenue and West Mall across from the Sunken Gardens.

Developer Mike Zappas purchased the two properties that will make up the site in 2017. The project will include retail, office and residential spaces with a design that will complement Atascadero’s picturesque City Hall.

Although the project was to be completed by 2019, that date will likely get pushed back to late 2020, said Zoe Zappas, who oversees marketing and manages projects for Z Villages, the family’s company.

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The La Plaza development by Mike Zappas, shown here in a rendering, will likely break ground in March or April and be completed by 2020. Courtesy city of Atascadero

“There (were) some necessary improvements we had to keep in mind and adapt to,” she said.

The first step involved removing buildings from the site, including a long-vacant Jack in the Box restaurant.

An old beauty supply shop near West Mall was demolished on Wednesday, and crews tore down the eatery on Friday, Zappas said. On Monday, bricks were all that remained at the site across from Entrada Avenue.

Malibu Brew Coffee — located on the West Mall corner of the property — will also come down.

The owners plan to move to a new spot down the road at 5955 East Mall, just behind the Century 21 building, at the end of January, Zappas said.

After the coffee shop building is demolished in late January or early February, crews will break ground on the La Plaza development by March or April.

Zappas said one tenant has signed a letter of intent to join the development, and they are looking for more restaurants and retailers. She expects to see interest increase once construction begins.

“We’re really excited to be bringing some quality to the downtown,” Zappas said.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, immigration and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She also covers northern San Luis Obispo County city governments and school districts. Lindsey joined The Tribune in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. She’s a native Californian raised in the Midwest and is a proud graduate of two Chicago schools: DePaul University and Northwestern University.

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