If you’ve driven around Jackson and Martell, you may notice that Heath Kastner is a popular name from signs promoting CBRE properties for sale or lease. Last week, I talked with Kastner last week about the state of the Amador County commercial real estate market and what the prospects are for recovery after the public health emergency is lifted.
Kastner has worked for CBRE for the past 20 years. CBRE, which is a national real estate company, has regional offices throughout the United States. Kastner works at the CBRE Sacramento office on Capitol Mall, but he’s been working in the Amador County market since 2003. The Sacramento office manages properties in northern California from the Central Valley to the Oregon border, with a particular focus on smaller communities. “We focus on mostly retail and shopping center and restaurant types of properties,” Kastner said, “including land that could be retail or industrial.”
A Look from 30,000 Feet
Some of the most visible properties he’s managing include the old Kmart building in Martell, the old Jackson Motors building in Jackson, and retail properties in the Amador Ridge Plaza in Martell. Kastner also has several parcels for sale or lease in the Sierra West Business Park as well as the Amador Central Business Park. The latter has only one tenant today: The Amador County Health and Human Services Department.
Right now, Kastner said, office leasing is slow, but if you’re in the industrial space, then things are good. And the retail market is somewhere in between. “Like a lot of smaller markets, you’ve got some businesses that are doing fine and some that are struggling,” he added. “People I talk to seem like they’re giving it their best shot.”
Kastner thinks that the industrial market will remain hot. “We have more interest now and we’re working on some deals,” he said. “I think that’s an area that could grow in Amador County because the industrial market is so strong in other areas.” What’s more, Kastner said, land in Amador County is still affordable for companies seeking to build warehouse facilities to serve the central Sierra foothills.
The Right (Retail) Stuff
When it comes to retail, Kastner said, Amador Ridge Plaza is the epicenter of county retail activity. A couple of bigger properties, including the old Kmart building, may stay empty for a while. With regards to that building, he said most of the time buildings like that get carved up or converted to other uses.
Though a large retailer is an ideal target to fill that space, don’t expect The Home Depot to be that retailer. “They were interested in coming to Amador County in the same location where Lowe’s is now,” Kastner said. “The area won’t support two major home improvement stores.”
Kastner is more optimistic about filling smaller properties like the former Jackson Motors building sooner rather than later. “It’s a good location and the zoning is pretty open there,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest parties, such as reusing a portion of the building for auto-related uses and leasing a portion out,” Kastner added. “Some have even been interested in a potential redevelopment of the property, but none of them have gone forward.”
Kastner remains optimistic about the county bouncing back from the pandemic when it subsides. “I’ve always been a proponent of Amador County,” he said. “Pre-pandemic, the market was healthy and doing well. Amador County is a desirable place to live in. We’ve seen there is a captive audience in the county for the market and people are shopping locally.”
Despite the county’s economic strength, Kastner believes interest in county commercial properties will pick up over time. “There are a lot of needs for additional retail use and other creative-type restaurants and entertainment venues,” he said. “It’ll take the right space and the right operators.”
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