Downtown Murrieta

City of Murrieta Fosters Retail Growth, Especially in Experiential Sectors

by Sarah Daniels

The city of Murrieta is a city on the grow — and for this area, the process of developing means expanding and deepening retail offerings, many of which are in the realm of experiential retail. The city is seeking to make a name for itself as it expands its offering for its residents and attracts visitors interested in family friendly fun, dining experiences and resorts that cater to relaxation.

Scott Agajanian

Scott Agajanian,
City of Murrieta

Located in Southwest Riverside County between Los Angeles and San Diego, Murrieta has a population of more than 118,000. The city sits just north of San Diego County and is at the confluence of two major freeways (Interstates 15 and 215), with about 275,000 people passing through Murrieta each day.

Murrieta has “a highly educated workforce and high-income residents. With our own local police and fire departments, Murrieta is one of the safest cities in the country,” says Scott Agajanian, Economic Development director for the city.

The fast-growing region is also inexpensive, especially compared to nearby areas, continues Agajanian. “You can afford to come out here and build while still being in the middle of the Southern California market.”

Tenant Mix and Expansion

With 60 percent of its workforce employed in healthcare (there are four hospitals in the city or nearby) and a healthy mix of other professional employment, Murrieta is interested in expanding its appeal even further to meet the needs of residents. “Murrieta is a relatively new city that started as a bedroom community and a commuter hub. We now have a population of 118,000, with a daytime population of nearly 110,000 — which means that the city is no ghost town during the day when people go to work.”

Based on the strength of the job base, Murrieta has a wide variety of major big box retailers. From a soon-to-open Costco and Sam’s Club to Lowe’s and Home Depot (with a second Home Depot coming to the east side of town), the city’s residents have access to a wealth of shopping options. Kohl’s, Target, Walmart and the first Amazon Fresh in Riverside County are all also represented.

Says Agajanian, “There are still some components that we’re always looking to fill. What we’re trying to do is amenitize this community to the point where people don’t have to drive away to find their entertainment or to find their dining or shopping experiences. While I think we’ve done some great work in bringing in some wonderful big box retailers (with Floor & Decor opening up with us last year and the Amazon Fresh opening up this year), we are always looking to make sure that we’re supplying our residents with opportunities to shop.”

Family Fun, Food and the Future of Recreation

With access to the San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles market and a reputation for safety, Murrieta has naturally become a haven for those looking to have or raising children. The focus on family has allowed a lot of experiential retail to thrive — Murrieta boasts the only luxury movie theater in South Riverside County and ten-plus family entertainment centers (like Mulligan Family Fun Center and Uptown Jungle Fun Park).

The average age of residents in Murrieta is 36, so a continuing trend Agajanian is seeing is the growth of breweries and restaurants catering to developed tastes. San Diego-based Belching Beaver Brewery plans to convert a business downtown into an indoor/outdoor restaurant/brewery/music space. This will complement popular options like DownTown Public House and the Wine Ranch restaurant, as well as planned restaurant and entertainment facilities on the east side of the city.

Still, the city of Murrieta is actively recruiting restaurants. “If there’s a number one need that we see here, it’s dining,” says Agajanian. “We have some great restaurants in town, but we probably have half the restaurants of the city to our south, Temecula, although we have a larger population.”

Murrieta wants more (and more types) of restaurant opportunities in town. Currently the city has mostly boutique dining, but Agajanian sees opportunities for franchise and chain dining as well.

Murrieta’s status as a recreation destination will hopefully be further solidified by the creation of a resort highlighting the area’s natural mineral hot springs. The development group (which also manages hot springs in Pagosa Springs, Colorado) plans to build spas, incorporate recreational facilities, offer yoga and all around make the area into a destination experience.

The resort will only add to Murrieta’s substantial list of destination attractions, including nearby wine country, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve and a plethora of golf options in and around the city.

— By Sarah Daniels. This post is posted as part of Shopping Center Business’ Retail Insight series. Click here to subscribe to the Retail Insight newsletter, a four-part newsletter series, followed by video interviews delivered to your inbox in May/June.

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