Dan Heredia, Dana Point
In February 1988 I opened my first business, a retail lingerie store (Fatal Attraction Lingerie & More) on Pacific Coast Highway and Crystal Lantern, paying $2.25 a square foot. Five years later and facing the first recession, I moved the store to the Blue Lantern Plaza, paying .95 cents a square foot, plus I was given tenant improvement money.
Dana Point at the time was an entrepreneur’s dream. Not only could you start a business, you could also reside in the small little beach town and raise a family like I once did.
I became active from the beginning with the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce and a couple of years later with the city of Dana Point and the different commissions that were created to address the problems facing the mom-and-pop business district.
With the power of networking and marketing, my business survived for 16 years before selling in 2006. One of the reasons to sell was because the yearly increase of the lease. During these 16 years, I attempted to buy vacant lots or buildings which to this day remain vacant—and I notice more vacant buildings and store fronts. The owners of these properties hung on for the right price. Some of the owners I originally contacted have passed on.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, especially if someone decides to open a retail business let alone a restaurant.
Two decades later, big money is coming into town with over-developed projects, which, if approved, will make this once small quaint beach town and harbor look like Hermosa, Redondo, Huntington and Newport Beach if the city isn’t careful.
I hope the city’s economic development manager realizes that whatever retail and restaurant plans for the future in relationship to any development that the leases are reasonable and affordable so the mom-and-pop businesses can return and prosper.
Otherwise, Dana Point may become the white elephant of south Orange County. As the saying goes in business; everything is negotiable.