Grass Valley Shopping Center rebranded, facelift to come | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley Shopping Center rebranded, facelift to come

The Grass Valley Shopping Center, built in 1979, has long been anchored by stalwarts Kmart, Big 5 and SPD Market.

But the slightly tired 153,501-square-foot center is about to see some big changes, starting with a rebranding as McKnight Crossing.

New signage intended to be reminiscent of a late 19th century mining town is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.

But the new name and new signs are just a harbinger.

Plans are well under way not just for a new "skin" — or facade — for the buildings, but also an indoor/outdoor marketplace reminiscent of the vendors that populate San Francisco's Ferry Building.

"We really want to add to the character of Grass Valley," said Cort Ensign, director of commercial leasing for Newport Beach-based Mesa Management, the company managing the center.

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"The concept here is the Grass Valley-Nevada City look and feel," he said. "We're trying to bring that whole theme into the area, to improve the center."

The food artisan marketplace, "The Mix," will be a blend of local fare, shops and kiosks in an indoor/outdoor seating venue.

"We want local vendors serving local fare, with 100- to 400-square-foot kiosks," Ensign said. Those could include coffee roasters, a brew pub, wine and a confectioners; entertainment could also be part of the venue.

"There will be a little of everything but it has to be local," he said. "That will be a requirement for vendors."

Ensign said he recently made several visits to Grass Valley and Nevada City, exploring the downtown stores and meeting potential vendors.

"We have a huge interest list," he said. "I think this is a really exciting thing (for the community)."

The "Mix" would take over the "elbow" portion of the shopping center, relocating some of the existing businesses to encompass around 6,000 to 9,000 square feet with a courtyard out front that features shared seating. A back courtyard could host a farmers market.

Ensign said the city of Grass Valley staff liked the concept and the company is looking to start the permit process next summer. Elevation drawings and photos of what "The Mix" might look like already are posted on the McKnight Crossing website.

"We want this to be a destination location instead of a utility shopping mall," he said. "This is where you will want to go."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lkellar@theunion.com.