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Brawley's Rio Vista Shopping Center in for major overhaul

January 05, 2001|By ANTHONY LONGORIA, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — The Rio Vista Shopping Center here will soon undergo a slew of transformations as its owners add more shopping facilities to its grounds.

"We're basically building a brand new shopping center in Brawley," said Phil Heald, co-owner of the Rio Vista Shopping Center.

Heald called the renovations and transformations a "vast expansion of the services to the people of Brawley."

Vons, Rite Aid and Imperial Stores will all get new buildings, according to plans set by the landowners.

Rite Aid will build a new building on the grounds of the recently demolished Wells Fargo Bank in the southeast corner of the property.

Imperial Stores will move into and remodel the former Rite Aid building.

The Rio Vista Center owners have purchased the former Golden State Farms property directly west of the center. Using the newly acquired property, a new 55,000 square-foot building is set to be built for Vons at the extreme west corner of the center, replacing the building the store is leasing several blocks east on Main Street.

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The former IV Farms building, which housed a grocery store that closed in 1997, will be demolished as part of the renovations for the new Vons building.

Vons spokesman Kevin Herglotz said Vons is excited about the opportunity for a new location.

"We look forward to having a new Vons that can offer more services, more conveniences and more value to the area," said Herglotz.

Mayor Wayne Johnson expressed excitement about the changes to the Rio Vista Center.

Johnson said the center will give the people of Brawley more options for purchases and keep tax dollars in the city instead of losing shoppers to El Centro stores.

"I see it as a big step for Brawley," said Johnson.

Construction on the center will start once escrow closes for the center's property sale to Vons (sometime in early March) and lot line adjustments have been made, according to Heald.

New buildings will also be built for additional shops in the center, among them a Radio Shack and a wireless retailer.

In addition to the building construction, a large expansion of the parking lot has also been planned to accommodate the expansions.

As for the future of the building Vons is leasing on Main Street, Johnson said Imperial Valley College is interested in moving its Brawley extension into the building.

Johnson added he hopes the building does not sit vacant.

Local Vons Manager Frank Huerta said that his lease on the current building ends in two years.

The new Vons is expected to be completed by early 2002. Rite Aid should be completed by late June of this year. All renovations are expected to be completed by early 2002.

Duggins Construction of El Centro will oversee all construction for the shopping center.

Staff Writer Anthony Longoria can be reached at 337-3452

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