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San Diego

An uptick in retail activity—including a full plate of name-brand restaurants—are signs that southwest Riverside County's appetite for spending is slowly returning. Lee & Associates SVP Brian Bielatowicz tells us overall volume has increased in cities such as Temecula and Murrieta, starting in Q4 2012. What he's seeing now are "stale concepts" that have been there for a long time being replaced with higher end, "more boutique-y concepts."

Reflecting this trend, Brian's team, which includes VP Ted Rivenbark, took over the old On the Border restaurant near Promenade Mall and replaced it with a Karl Strauss Brewing Co. Across the street, they put in another popular San Diego eating place: the Broken Yolk. Strong demographics are driving activity. "It's a very young population that seems to have ridden out the storm." Housing values here have recovered back to 2003-'04 levels and the economy is spurring a little bit more, he says.

Next to Karl Strauss, a portion of the former Roadhouse Grill will be replaced by Corner Bakery. A bit north in Menifee, he's got an Applebee's under construction—part of a development that will include Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Jersey Mike's. He's also finalizing a lease there with T-Mobile, has another out for signature with Flame Broiler, and is closing escrow on a pad next month with America's Tire. Across the street at the big Countryside Marketplace power center, he's signed new leases with ULTA and Justice For Girls. Even with new centers on the boards, Brian says he's running out of space to lease and looking to see where the next wave of development will come. (Probably our waistline.)