Pacifica’s Eureka Square largely abandoned

Eureka Square now has more empty buildings like these than it has actual businesses.

By Marc Arguello/The Skyline View

Eureka Square now has more empty buildings like these than it has actual businesses.

If you didn’t know any better, going into Eureka Square, you’d think Pacifica was a ghost town. Eureka Square, a once prominent and popular shopping center in Pacifica, has been nearly completely emptied out of its businesses over the course of a few months.

However, the slumping economy is not the primary factor in the mass exodus of business from the shopping center. According to store owners, it’s more easily attributed to sudden, dramatic increases in rent and unexpected fees from the land owner, Biagini Properties.

“We had a drug store, video store, a café; all of those are closed,” said Jesse Gutierrez, manager of Oceana Market (formerly Food Town). Gutierrez says that although his market has remained open, the closure of businesses around his store affects him negatively as well.

“People don’t want to come for just one thing,” Gutierrez said. He said that the lack of foot traffic from other stores makes it harder for Oceana Market to attract business.

Gutierrez says that money is tight as it is, and the landlords’ increasing rent isn’t helping the situation. Gutierrez said that instead of lowering the rent to help businesses in their time of need, the landlords are increasing their rent. He suggested that this isn’t a very wise business strategy in the long run.

“It’s their money,” Gutierrez said, concerning Biagini Properties. “They can do what they want.”

However, some store owners suggested that Biagini might be trying to force out businesses so it could use the lot for its own purposes.

“They could be greedy,” said Mike Fields, owner of Anime Imports. “Or they’re trying to clear out the place for something else.”

Fields formerly worked at DNA Cards and Comics, a comic book store that formerly resided in Eureka Square. In 2005 it had to close down due to large increases in rent and unexpected fees from the landlords.

Fields said that typically, Biagini would nearly double the rent of a business after its initial lease expired. Not only this, but the store owners would be charged with various unexpected fees for services they didn’t request, such as roof repair and parking lot maintenance. Over the course of several years, many businesses left as soon as their leases were up.

Fields says he’s sad to see so many local businesses have to close because of this.

“I only show small business, so it’s sad to see them go,” Fields said. “It’s a bad business model to raise the rents on local businesses.”

However, not all of the businesses that left Eureka Square left because of the rent. Margaret Tassi, owner of Clay Creations, had to move her business due to a completely unrelated issue.

However, Tassi understands the struggle that other businesses have with Eureka Square.

“It’s really hard for the businesses still there,” Tassi said. “People get a sense that something’s not right.”

Deedee Crader, a resident of Pacifica, said that she has never seen Eureka Square so empty.

“It’s scary,” Crader said. “You’re watching something that used to be bustling that’s not there anymore.” Crader said the situation is as much a fault of the bad economy as it is of Pacifica itself.

“Nobody comes here anymore,” she said. “There’s nothing here.”