As I drive around town and visit shopping centers and business areas I find some to be sad and confusing.
I see so many businesses closing down and leaving certain sections of Tucson. I also see many empty offices and stores. Just a few are because of our poor economy in which the businesses had struggled to stay open and finally needed to close down.
In Tucson, it a very common to see one shopping center almost empty and the shopping center just across the street from it totally full of businesses. This is what is confusing to me. The only 2 reasons I can come up with for this is that the similar business(es) across the street were too competitive for them, or the rent was too high.
I also see new retail and professional buildings being built when there are so many empty ones not very far away in distance.
No matter the reasons, the empty stores and office spaces are sad and a waste of property, resources and useful space.
Below are 5 shopping centers with quite a few empty spaces available, which are located in very populated, well-known areas of Tucson.
1. The Bear Canyon Shopping Center is located at 8985 E. Tanque Verde Road, at the northwest corner of E. Tanque Verde Road and Catalina Highway; it can also be accessed from N. Bear Canyon Road.
This very large, almost empty shopping center always bothers me because it is in the vicinity of where I do most of my shopping.
There are 10 empty spaces in this Bear Canyon Shopping Center. Most of all of its spaces are empty rather than occupied. One of its attached empty spaces is huge and used to be a Lucky’s Food Store many years ago. The empty free-standing building used to be a Chuy’s restaurant and closed very recently.
Currently, in this shopping center is the Kirk-Bear Canyon Branch Library, the Bear Canyon Mail Depot (a USPS authorized substation), Don’s Bayou Restaurant, Viv’s Café, South Hampen Café, a small dance studio, Bear Canyon Pet Clinic, Velvet Bow Pet Grooming and a day care center.
I think any type of retail store would benefit and be successful in this shopping center. As a member of this specific community, I think the people in the area would like a craft store, a bakery, a discount store, a bagel shop, a card and stationary store, an office supply store and others at this location. I think a bicycle shop would also be beneficial because the shopping center directly across the street is a very popular meeting place for cyclists before and after they begin their bike ride.
The parking lot is huge for easy, accessible parking with many handicapped spaces.
There is a police station, 2 banks and a Circle K right in front of this shopping center.
There are several apartment complexes, condominiums and private homes within walking distance of this Bear Canyon shopping center.
Across Catalina Highway, directly east from this very empty shopping center is another shopping center which has a very busy Safeway, Walgreens and a Dollar Tree store in it along with other small stores and a few restaurants. Very recently a GNC store and a self-serve yogurt shop became occupants in the shopping center. I think all of this shopping center is occupied except for one free-standing building that used to be a Pizza Hut.
It is interesting that so many different areas of Tucson are so well developed with new and old retail businesses and professional offices, but for some reason this far east side of Tucson, where this almost totally empty shopping center above is located, often remains untouched.
2. A few miles west of the shopping center above is the Colonia Verde Shopping Center, which is located at 7177 E. Tanque Verde Road, at N. Sabino Canyon Road.
This is a very large and busy shopping center. It is my understanding that small businesses in shopping centers which contain a food store are very successful. I, for one, like one stop shopping. I prefer to park my car in one spot and walk to several stores.
This shopping center has 6 available spaces.
Currently in this Colonia Verde shopping center is a Safeway food store, Walgreens, Ace Hardware, a hair salon, a florist, a bagel shop, a bike shop, a bank, Blockbuster Video, Cold Stone Creamery, a cleaners and other small businesses.
Any popular small business would do well in this shopping center such as a nail salon, possibly a bakery, a book store, etc.
The parking lot is big with many handicapped spaces.
3. The Santa Fe Square Shopping Center is located at 7000 E. Tanque Verde Road at Sabino Canyon Road, next to the Chase Bank. This is an elegant shopping center with pueblo style buildings, a fountain in its center court and a front cobblestone parking lot.
The other day after going to the bank, I decided to walk in and around this shopping center for exercise. I was in awe over its beauty and surprised at the vacancies I saw. I’m not sure how many unoccupied spaces there are but I did see some.
Currently at this location is SWAT Personal training, Noggins Hair Salon, a bike shop, the Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson Lifestyle’s office, a real estate office, 2 restaurants and more.
A quiet business whose employees mostly work out of the office would love it here, as well as a travel agency, a boutique, a jewelry store and other businesses.
Adjacent to this Sante Fe Square Shopping Center is a Ramada Inn Hotel and directly across the street is the Comfort Suites Hotel.
There is ample parking in the front and on the side (behind the Chase bank) of this shopping center. The parking lots for this shopping center have multiple entries on E. Tanque Verde Road and on Sabino Canyon Road.
4. La Plaza Shoppes is located at 6530 E. Tanque Verde Road, near Grant and Kolb Roads, which is one of the busiest intersections in Tucson. This shopping center is located between Pima Street and Kolb Road.
In this shopping center there are 8 spaces available.
Currently in this shopping center is Millie’s Pancake House, a few restaurants, a quilting shop, very nice galleries, boutiques and retail shops.
Any elegant business would do well in this shopping center such as a Hallmark or paper store and anything else that isn’t already in the area. This shopping center is not near any large shopping centers which is an advantage to businesses looking to set up a store in town away from other competitors.
The parking lot is big with multiple entries from E. Tanque Verde Road.
5. Plaza Palomino is located at 2910 N Swan Road, on the southeast corner of N. Swan Road and E. Fort Lowell Road. This is a very colorful, attractive shopping center which has been known for it’s fine restaurants and one-of-a-kind retail shops. It is a popular tourist attraction in Tucson.
There are 5 spaces available in Plaza Palomino either for offices, or retail. Plaza Palomino has 2 floors.
Currently its occupants are a few restaurants, a bakery, galleries, an antique shop, Dark Star Leather which sells leather items including made-to-fit sandals, the Paper Patch, a Salon/Day Spa and other fine food and retail shops.
The parking lot is big and circles the entire shopping center.
If you would like to see pictures of Plaza Palomino and read more about the elegant shopping center including its current occupants and list of events, their website is:
To view the commercial information and contact information about these shopping centers and the available spaces for rent, or lease, visit the website:
My major sources are my eyes as I drive and walk around Tucson. I have lived here for almost 30 years. Many of these shopping centers were built the year I moved here, or afterwards.
I hope to see many of the empty spaces occupied, in the near future.