You might have heard from a little bird — or several of them — that Red Robin would be relocating to Fremont, leaving the NewPark Mall area with yet another closed business.
But officials addressed that rumor Tuesday and said the Colorado-based national food chain restaurant known for its burgers and bottomless fries will stay in Newark.
According to Red Robin spokesman Kevin Caulfield, real estate specialists said there are no plans to relocate or close Newark’s Red Robin restaurant inside of NewPark Mall.
“There are no plans to close that restaurant,” Caulfield said. “It would appear that is a rumor.”
And it's a rumor that has circulated for years.
Newark Community Development Director Terrence Grindall said he's heard rumors about the 26-year-old Newark restaurant possibly closing its doors for the last couple of years. However, Grindall also confirmed that he has not received information from Red Robin officials that would solidify the hearsays as truth.
Still, there is no hiding that many businesses in NewPark Mall and its surrounding shopping plazas have closed or moved out of town in the past several months. In 2011, both Toys 'R' Us and Target moved out of the area for new locations just 2.6 miles away in Fremont’s Pacific Commons shopping center, an outdoor retail area that sits on 80 acres in south Fremont.
The most recent closure was of a a multiplex movie theater that has been in Newark for approximately 30 years. In mid-April, a 16-screen Century Theater movie complex opened at Pacific Commons.
But unlike other business departures, city officials said the financial impact of Newark’s movie theater closure will be small.
“It’s never good to lose employees,” said Grindall, who added that the sales tax generated from the longtime movie complex was minimal and became smaller when it transitioned into a discount theater in June of this year.
Grindall said city officials still believe a movie theater could work in the greater NewPark Mall region, which is defined as the commercial area that includes NewPark Mall and nearby retail areas like Mowry Crossings near BJ's Restaurant and the Mowry Plaza, which is anchored by TJ Maxx and 24 Fitness.
He added that having a movie theater could promote more traffic to transform the area into a central retail hub for south Alameda County.
The hope, Grindall said, is for Newark to possibly house an IMAX theater for the region. The closest IMAX theater is located in Dublin's Regal Cinema at Hacienda Crossings. IMAX theaters allow for images to be displayed at a large size and resolution, according to Wikipedia.
To help develop a vision for the future of the entire area, city officials are working with Oakland-based City Design Collective, an urban design firm that Newark is working with to develop the Greater NewPark Master Plan, which will serve as a master plan that will look analyze how region.
There have been no new developments in the region for years, and Grindall said there’s no word on what may be built at Mowry Crossings despite its recent demolishment of former buildings in January or of a new tenant to take over Toys ‘R’ Us’ lease in the Mowry Plaza. Toys ‘R’ Us, he said, is still paying rent for its former location in Newark.
He emphasized the city has little say in which retailers can open in privately owned properties like NewPark Mall and other shopping plazas, but that the city has regulatory tools it can use when property owners want to make changes like expanding properties.
Because the city cannot regulate what kinds of businesses are recruited, Grindall said city officials are pursuing the creation of a Greater NewPark Master Plan to "drive energy" into the region and encourage property owners to invest in enhancements, Grindall said.
“It’s such a great opportunity site,” said Grindall, citing the location's proximity to Interstate 880.
Residents met with city officials and consultants in a public meeting nearly one week ago to provide input about the plan.
Consultants are currently working on developing the Greater NewPark Master Plan and Grindall said another community meeting in anticipated to be held in November.
Editor's note: This report was published in August 2012.