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Carlsbad Center Getting a Makeover

The San Diego Business Journal

September 23, 2021

Carlsbad outdoor shopping center is getting a facelift.

Northwood Investors in partnership with Nuveen Real Estate is renovating The Forum Carlsbad, 1923 Calle Barcelona.

The companies plan to redo storefronts and add more patios and other outdoor space, and bring in tenants that better meet the needs of an evolving retail market, said Ward Kampf, president of Northwood Retail.

Northwood Retail, an affiliate of Northwood Investors, will oversee the leasing, marketing, property management and redevelopment of the center.

Built in 2003 and 2004 by Thomas Enterprises, The Forum is “somewhat dated but we’re not going to do anything major” Kampf said. “It starts with the new store fronts, new tenants, really, really dynamic tenants.”

The center has 265,000 square feet of commercial space on a 34.2-acre site.

Great Bones

Manuel Martin, Nuveen global head of retail, said that with his company’s partnership with Northwood, “we will unleash latent value at The Forum as well as identify more opportunities in lifestyle and mixed-use spaces.”

Anushka Silva, Nuveen asset management director, said that the two companies hoped to build on “The Forum’s long history as the preeminent retail destination in the trade area” by “implementing a holistic approach to leasing, marketing and place making.”

Kampf said details of what the renovation of The Forum will look like are still being worked out, and he didn’t want to estimate what they would cost until the plans are finalized.

“This is kind of our way, we sit down, we think about what’s the vision for the asset, how can we serve the community,” Kampf said. “That center has great bones. It has great egress and ingress for Southern California.”

Retail in general has been hard hit by the pandemic, but Kampf said that The Forum is better placed than other centers.


“What I see is North County is this explosive market that’s been totally underserved,” Kampf said. “North County has just become dynamic. You have a strong demographic in North County. You have a lot of tourism in North County that’s kind of this captured audience.”

The commercial real estate brokerage CBRE in its retail report for the second quarter of 2021 said that there was cause for optimism, although the report came out before the Delta variant of COVID-19 really took hold.

Nevertheless, CBRE reported that “retail fundamentals showed optimism despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that continues to present challenges to retailers in the region.”

“Positive net absorption reached 112,527 square feet, marking the first positive net absorption in eight quarters,” CBRE reported. “New leasing was active, reaching 374,590 square feet in Q2, just below the 2016-2020 quarter average.”

The Forum Carlsbad was built in 2003 and 2004 by Thomas Enterprises and Kampf worked on branding the mall for Thomas Enterprises.

About 94.5% of The Forum is leased, but Kampf said the center could benefit from some of the up-and-coming businesses that emerged through the pandemic.

“There’s a whole wave of dynamic tenants, pre-COVID and post-COVID,” Kampf said.

Among other things, Kampf said Northwood and Nuveen would upgrade food offerings, although he said The Forum is starting from a position of some strength with Jimbo’s market among existing tenants. He said Northwood and Nuveen would soon announce what new stores and restaurants will be added.

“We think we can potentially upgrade the tenant mix as far as fashion etc. The first thing we want to do is get the new restaurants open,” Kampf said. “The retailers are finding that the formula for success is buy online, pick up at the store. A lot of retailers are saying it’s more profitable that way. Everybody’s just retooling.”

Northwood Investors
Founded: 2006
President and CEO: John Kukral
Headquarters: New York
Business: Real estate investment firm
Employees: 200+
Annual revenue: $153 million
Notable: Northwood Investors manages about $8 billion of investor capital.
Website: www.northwoodinvestors.com
Contact: 212-573-0800