After decades of planning and about 18 months of construction, San Ramon finally has a central community gathering place as the long-anticipated City Center in Bishop Ranch is officially open for business.
Designed by award-winning international architectural firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the new retail and entertainment hub by Bishop Ranch owner Sunset Development consists of 300,000 square feet for about 70 stores, several restaurants and a luxury movie theater around a 1-acre square along Bollinger Canyon Road just east of Interstate 680.
“We are thrilled to welcome East Bay residents and visitors to the first phase of City Center Bishop Ranch,” Alex Mehran Jr., president and chief operating officer of Sunset Development, said in a statement. “The center has been a dream of ours for many years, and we’re proud to welcome everyone to what we believe will become the new heart of San Ramon, and one of America’s most beautiful and innovative lifestyle-destination centers.”
Officially open for business as of Thursday, City Center saw more of a soft opening as many of its shops and restaurants are not yet available for shoppers to peruse. A variety of shops and restaurants will begin opening through the holiday season, with the majority of tenants being available by the beginning of 2019.
While the full tenant lineup may have not yet opened, City Center has an eclectic collection of stores and restaurants currently available for residents, headlined by luxury movie theater The Lot — which perhaps most accurately exemplifies the image City Center wants to cultivate.
“We don’t really see ourselves as a movie theater. We are more of a hospitality, community hub that happens to show movies, you don’t have to necessarily watch movies to come here,” said Carlos Wellman, managing director for The Lot. “They way we see it city center is going to become the staple and the hub of the community and we wanted to be a part of that.”
Located in the center of the retail complex, The LOT is a 10-theater venue that in addition to showing movies will provide customers with a central place to dine and view their surroundings.
The Lot was joined opening week by a variety of shops and retailers including: West Elm, Boba Guys, Fieldwork Brewing Company, On the EDGE, Pottery Barn, Starbucks, the piece. Store, and Williams Sonoma.
Those stores will be joined in the coming months by the likes of Anthropologie, Athleta, Curry Up Now, Equinox San Ramon, Mendocino Farms, MIXT, Ramen Hiroshi, and the much anticipated Slanted Door — a popular Vietnamese-inspired eatery owned and operated by celebrated San Francisco restaurateur Charles Phan.
“Stay tuned, because today’s openings are just the first wave in a steady succession of store and restaurant openings planned over the next year. There will be many more reasons for visitors to make City Center a regular part of their itineraries,” Mehran added.
Officials do not want the economic impact the retail space will have on the region to be lost in the excitement of the complex’s grand opening. City Center officials estimate that anywhere from 800-1,000 residents will be employed at the various retailers and restaurants throughout the complex.
San Ramon city officials have also been open and vocal in their support of City Center, saying it will provide the city with a type of downtown area where the community can come together and congregate — as San Ramon has no formal downtown area.
“For many years our residents have expressed a strong desire for a downtown that is both beautiful and functional, a place where they can come together to socialize, enjoy cultural events, shop, dine and simply have fun,” Mayor Bill Clarkson said. “By virtue of its well thought-out design, accessible location and welcoming ambiance, City Center fulfills that desire in every conceivable way.”
City Center will look to start its relationship with the San Ramon community by hopefully establishing some new, soon to be, traditions. On Nov. 28, 29 and 30, the entire East Bay community is invited to a holiday tree lighting celebration held in the central community area. City Center officials say an announcement will be forthcoming with more details and a special customer area which will be available for participants to congregate during the ceremony.