STANTON, Calif. — Mayor David Shawver remembers when the south side of Stanton was blighted.
The former commercial center on Beach Boulevard and north of Garden Grove Boulevard looked almost like a ghost town. Storefront signs were faded. Most of the stores were empty or neglected, the parking lot sat vacant, and few people would visit that area, said Shawver, who has lived in Stanton for more than 47 years.
“This area was empty for 15 years after the original center closed down," Shawver said. "We lost a lot of revenue that we could have gotten from a large commercial area.”
Today, that once-vacant, blighted part of town on Beach Boulevard that the city of Stanton and Garden Grove share has now transformed into a true live, shop, and dine destination.
On a recent day, cars snaked around the parking lot, waiting to order at a drive-thru In-N-Out and Raising Cane’s. Construction workers pounded away at skeletal wooden structures of the last remaining homes to be built at Brookfield Residential’s Lantana @Beach townhome development. And even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the parking lot of the 10-acre retail center that once sat vacant all those years ago, is mostly full from visitors. They were checking out the last piece of this new retail center’s puzzle, Rodeo 39, an outdoor-indoor food hall.
“It’s been a rebirth in that part of town,” Shawver said. “It’s like someone waved a magic wand. What once was dark has become a rainbow. There’s new housing and new commercial development... It’s a second renaissance.”
With the completion of Rodeo 39, which will formally hold a grand opening on Oct. 13, the joint venture of Brookfield and Frontier Real Estate Investments’ 22-acre mixed-use housing and retail project called 22 & Beach has completed a portion of the redevelopment and revival of Stanton’s Beach Boulevard section.
The new retail center and housing project are expected to be a boon for the small town, which is usually overshadowed by its neighbors Anaheim, Garden Grove, and Westminster, and greatly expands the city’s tax base.
“I’m excited about new sales revenue that could contribute to our general fund,” Shawver said.
Stanton is not a well-known city in Orange County. It has 40,000 residents living in a 3.1 square mile area that borders the west side of Garden Grove and Westminster. Over the years, Stanton has had a reputation as gang-infested and scrappy city that nearly went bankrupt. But slowly, in recent years, those labels are shedding.
New developments in the city are paving the way.
Brookfield acquired the 22-acre parcel that formerly housed a blighted commercial area and DMV in 2018 from a former developer, who just sat on the land and did nothing, according to reports. Brookfield and Frontier co-developed the land with the former focusing on building housing and the latter, the retail portion. The joint venture broke ground on Lantana @Beach and Village @Beach in 2018.
The new 41,000 square foot Rodeo 39 food hall is the latest addition to the Village @Beach retail center. Other tenants at the center include a Chase Bank, a Panda Express, and a Planet Fitness gym.
Rodeo 39 is not your typical indoor food hall. The food hall features several murals from local artists inside, and hangar doors that lift up in the front of the building, technically making it an outdoor eating establishment. Frontier officials said no pets are allowed except service animals and they will continue to monitor the number of people allowed into the building as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The food hall features more than 25 eateries and retail stores and plenty of outdoor seating. The food stations are almost a reflection of the surrounding diverse community, one of Stanton’s strength, the mayor said.
There’s a brewery and bar, a place to eat Filipino food, a Vietnamese Bánh mì shop, Laotian barbecue, deep dish square pizzas, burgers, a coffee house, a butcher shop, a flower shop, and plenty of desserts. There’s also a tattoo parlor and clothing stores.
“The city of Stanton needed a community gathering place,” Frontier Real Estate Investments Managing Partner Dan Almquist said. “One of the things we always talk about when we’re developing projects is that we want our developments to have a soul and a sense of community. I think we accomplished that with this project.”
The new food hall will complement Brookfield’s adjacent 208-unit townhouse development. Brookfield officials said 150 of 208 units selling for $400,000 to the low $600,000 have already sold, and they are on pace to selling out the entire residences by the end of this year or early next year.
The master-planned townhome development, which features a private pool, children’s play area, and plenty of courtyards and walkways, is connected to the retail center. Residents of Lantana could easily walk through a gate and enter the retail center.
“The combination of popular, neighborhood-serving retail with new homes has been a powerful one-two punch for the community,” said Brookfield Residential Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Caitlyn Lai-Valenti in an emailed statement to Spectrum News 1.
Shawver said this development is just a continuation of what the city has been doing to redevelop its part of the Beach Boulevard corridor. Like other cities in Orange County where Highway 39 or Beach Boulevard passes through, Stanton has invested in upgrading its Beach Boulevard section with new street names, signs, and landscaping. There are other developments under construction along Beach Boulevard in Stanton, the mayor said.
Stanton, Shawver said, was once known as the “Crossroads to Vacationland,” a popular, affordable middle of the way point of destination in Orange County that people used to flock to prior to heading down to the beach or Knott's Berry Farm or Disneyland.
While it may not be a vacationland, the new commercial retail center, Rodeo 39 food hall and housing developments will attract people back to Stanton as a live, play and dine destination in Orange County.
“We didn’t build this just for Stanton,” the mayor said. “It’s nice that we claim it. But this is equally good for our neighbors Garden Grove and Westminster and the rest of Orange County. We are not the only ones extremely excited about this.”