A time of evolution along Burlingame Avenue

Several stores along eastern Burlingame Avenue have closed up shop this summer, opening the door for two new restaurants and two new retailers on the busy street.

La Corneta Taqueria will be holding court mid-block in the space that used to house Sweet Treats and Nelson's Coffee Shop, building owner Karim Salma said. The spot at the corner that was held by La Salsa and White Dove Jewelry Exchange will become another restaurant and wine bar. A Middle Eastern restaurant, meanwhile, is set to open soon at the corner of California Drive and Burlingame Avenue.

Chico's, a clothing store located on the same block, and Lucky Brand Dungarees, located further down Burlingame Avenue, also closed recently. Both locations will likely remain retail, city planner Meg Monroe said.

Representatives from Chico's wanted to open another branch in Hillsdale Shopping Center, Monroe said. But citing corporate requirements for distance between stores, the company decided to close the Burlingame shop in order to make that happen.

A similar situation arose with Williams-Sonoma, which was in Crosby Commons on the avenue at Primrose Road years ago, Monroe said.

What appears to be natural ebb and flow of businesses in the district doesn't have officials worried, however.

“We can't control who comes and who goes,” City Manager Jim Nantell said. “I just tell people that we promise to give them places to eat and places to shop.”

Mary Beth Essa, former board member for the Burlingame Avenue Business Improvement District, said the climbing cost of rent might keep some business owners away from the avenue.

“The good thing for the town is that this is a destination spot for shopping,” Essa said. “But it means that landowners can demand more for rent.”

Nantell agreed that corporate retailers could drive up rent. But a city-funded study released in May found that heavy corporate presence needs to be tempered with independent businesses to keep the local economy healthy, and Nantell thinks the city has struck the balance well.

“We've got a fairly good, healthy mix down there,” Nantell said.

tramroop@examiner.com

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