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Burnham’s MV Site Lands Amazon Grocer

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A recently redeveloped retail site along the San Diego (5) Freeway in Mission Viejo is set to become home to the first Amazon Fresh grocery store in South Orange County.

The grocery store offshoot of e-commerce giant Amazon, which offers “Dash Carts” that allow customers to skip checkout lines, and integration with Alexa shopping lists, among other unique features, is set to take up space at The Gateway in Mission Viejo, a roughly 4-acre site under construction along Crown Valley Road, next to the freeway.

Newport Beach-based Burnham Ward Properties, the well-known retail developer behind Costa Mesa’s SOCO and OC Mix shopping center, among other area projects, owns the property.

It paid a reported $16 million for the site last year—among the top South OC retail purchases in 2020—and subsequently undertook a major overhaul of the property, whose buildings counted some 43,000 square feet at the time of sale.

An Amazon store had been rumored for the site for several months. Signage for the new grocery store went up at the property earlier this month.

Big Box Swaps

Amazon’s space previously held an OfficeMax. It’s set to be the fourth grocery store of its type in OC.

An Amazon Fresh site at the Irvine Market Place, also just off the 5 freeway, was the concept’s first location in the county and opened about a year ago. It’s at a former Babies R Us site.

A Fullerton spot for the grocer previously holding a Toys R Us store along Harbor Boulevard has also opened, and in July the company announced plans for a location along Imperial Highway in La Habra.

As of this summer, there were 18 doors open for the grocer nationwide.

Most stores run between 30,000 square feet and 40,000 square feet.

Also coming to The Gateway: Pirch, the upscale kitchen, bath and outdoor goods retailer. It’ll be the second spot for the chain in OC; Pirch’s other area location is at the Burnham-developed SOCO project along the 405 freeway in Costa Mesa.

Active Sector

The leasing success for The Gateway shows there’s plenty of interest for certain types of big-box anchored retail centers, if the properties are modern and in good locations, according to Scott Burnham, who runs Burnham Ward alongside business partner Bryon Ward, and who also owns and operates real estate affiliate Burnham USA Equities.

“We remain busy in retail,” Burnham said. “We’re in deep.”

To that point, an affiliate of Burnham USA recently picked up another big-box retail site in the city of Orange.

The nearly 5-acre site is along North Tustin Avenue, just off the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway, and has long been home to a Best Buy store running about 46,000 square feet.

Burnham Equities paid El Segundo-based Continental Development Corp. close to $23 million for the property, according to property records.

It’s a return home for the buyer. Continental paid Burnham $22.1 million for the site across the street from a Walmart in 2012.

Scott Burnham said the plan is to operate the site as is for the time being, but that redevelopment is possible down the line. The site counts a large surface parking lot, in addition to the Best Buy.

His companies have owned several Best Buy-occupied stores over the years, including one on Chapman Avenue in Orange. 

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