Bodines Casino opened nine years ago at the very south end of Carson. Apparently business has been good because the owners are looking at opening a second location, near the north end of town. They are going through the permitting process to move into empty space at the North Town Plaza shopping center at College Parkway and Carson Street.
North Town Plaza kind of has a rocky history. You probably know it best as the Kmart shopping center. The Super Kmart was built here in 1994. Seeing the potential of having a strong retail center anchored by a major retailer, the center was expanded in the late 90s with lots more space.
But the expected retailers never showed up. A few moved in, but the center always had plenty of empty space. Then in 2003 the Kmart closed, leaving a huge hole in the center that has never been filled. Without the major anchor, very few new stores were willing to move in, and the ones that were there dwindled and closed down.
Nowadays very few of the spaces in North Town Plaza are taken. Even the McDonald’s that was here closed. Starbucks and Yogurt Beach seem to be doing well, but aside from that the shopping center is a veritable ghost town.
For the owners of Bodines, this was an opportunity. Lots of already-built space at a low price with a huge parking lot is exactly what they were looking for, and when the Horseshoe Club casino located downtown closed, one of the rare unrestricted gaming licenses was available. Bodines snatched that up and made their intentions to occupy the empty space at North Town Plaza known.
There was some opposition to the plan, mostly from other casino operators in town who are seeing a saturated market and not relishing the thought of having more competition. But most of the obstacles have been overcome and it sounds like this is a done deal. No date has been set for construction yet, but I wanted to stop by and get some pictures of the shopping center before they started working on it.
I’ve kept this shopping center in the back of my mind ever since they built it nearly 20 years ago, and from what I can remember there are storefronts in here that have never once been occupied by tenants. 20 years of being vacant is bad news for any building, especially one like that that is supposed to be earning money for its owners. Maybe Bodines moving in will re-energize the North Town Plaza, and lead to stores coming back and filling up some of that empty space.