River Park is going to look a lot different by this time next year. The shopping center already has made some major changes and more are underway.
Here’s a rundown of what’s happening.
Victoria’s Secret: Perhaps the most noticeable change is the remodel and expansion of the Victoria’s Secret store. The brand – which always does extremely well in the Valley – has undergone major changes to the inside and outside of the store in The Shops at River Park.
It almost looks like two stores now as the changes boost the image of Victoria’s Secret’s PINK brand. This is the line of undies and clothing that skews more cute than sexy and is aimed at a younger customer (that the retailer hopes will eventually graduate to its more mature offerings). It carries things like sequined tank tops, fluorescent bras, gym pants, hoodies, even phone covers.
A little toy dog, the Victoria’s Secret PINK logo, is painted on the outside of the building.
And if you have any doubt how popular this brand is, that section of the store was mobbed with young women off from school and work poring over the post-Christmas discounts at 2 p.m. on a weekday last week.
Attached to the PINK section is the more traditional Victoria’s Secret part of the store with hot pink shelves selling the Body by Victoria collection, robes, long-sleeved flannel PJs and more perfumes and lotions.
During its remodel, Victoria’s Secret had taken over the Kwirkworld store, which closed in March. The center is still looking for new tenants for the Kwirkworld space, which hosted holiday photos and a solar company temporarily during the holidays.
Häagen-Dazs: I realize I’m probably burying the big news for those of you who don’t care about fluorescent bras, but yes, The Shops at River Park is getting a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop, confirms River Park spokeswoman Tracy Kashian.
The ice cream shop will probably open this summer between Jamba Juice and Color Me Mine.
New stores: You may have noticed the string of new little businesses that opened in a portion of the parking garage that was recently enclosed.
Three Graces sells jewelry, accessories and gifts. The store is owned by a Fresno native who started an online handmade jewelry business and moved back home from Los Angeles to open the shop.
That row also now includes Perfumerie, which sells perfume and cologne and moved from Fashion Fair.
Teazer World Tea Market: The gourmet tea shop debuted its expansion just before Christmas. It took over the space that Chiffonos Bakery left behind when it left River Park (no worries, it’s still open at Champlain Drive and Shepherd Avenue).
Teazer is serving ‘Star Wars’-themed teas dubbed the Han Solo, Princess Leia and Stormtrooper.
The extra Teazer space has more seating, a big group table and a new cake display case.
Hand & Stone Massage: Driving simulator RaceRoom is gone, but Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa is getting ready to open in that space. In addition to several kinds of massage, it also offers facials, hair removal and aromatherapy.
More remodeling: The area stretching from the parking garage in front of the theater to the former World Sports Cafe will get a facelift later this year, spokeswoman Kashian says.
The current playground will be removed and replaced with a new one. More seating will be added and more permanent kiosks will be added.
World Sports Cafe update: So many of you have asked about what’s going into the empty restaurant space, but there’s no news to share yet.
It’s our last big space, so we want to put the right thing in there.
River Park spokeswoman Tracy Kashian about the former World Sports Cafe space.
It likely won’t be a restaurant since the kitchen has been ripped out and the center already has plenty of places to eat, notes Kashian.
The company is holding out for just the right tenant, with two secret ones in mind, she says.
But the space has had tons of interest from potential businesses.
“It’s more of us being picky,” Kashian says. “We’ve had 25 restaurants call and ask to be in there.”
Dave & Buster’s: By now you probably know that restaurant-bar-arcade Dave & Buster’s is coming to the area. Crews are working away and the highly anticipated business is expected to open this summer.
Technically located in The Village at River Park, it’s up the street a ways from what most of us think of as River Park. It is being built at Highway 41 and Friant Road, just west of the Applebee’s.
But back to points south of there.
There are changes over at The Marketplace at River Park, too (that’s the portion with Target, Michaels, etc.).
Well, that space, next to Ashley Furniture, will become a PetSmart this summer. The 15,000-square-foot store will have a veterinarian and a dog-washing station.
Anna’s replacement: A to Z Home Medical Equipment will open in the next month or two in the former Anna’s Linens spot by Buy Buy Baby. Anna’s filed for bankruptcy and closed all its stores earlier this year.
Parking and trees: A slew of big new palm trees have been planted in The Marketplace at River Park in an effort to tie it in with the rest of the center.
And expect to see parking places rearranged in the months to come to add 100-200 new spaces.
The center also added another entrance/exit behind the theater on El Paso to make it easier to get in and out of that area.