Owners of a retail shopping center in Irvine, Calif. are catering to strong local demand for Japanese goods and produce by bringing in a new Asian supermarket. Mitsuwa Marketplace has leased 13,853 sq. ft. of space formerly occupied by Ace Hardware in Heritage Plaza, a 233,000 sq. ft. neighborhood center owned by Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency Centers Corp.

The market is slated to open in the fourth quarter of this year and will be Mitsuwa’s seventh California store. Headquartered in Torrance, Calif., Mitsuwa also owns stores in New Jersey and Chicago and is the largest Japanese grocery chain in the United States, according to Regency.

Mitsuwa Marketplace offers high-quality Japanese produce, meat, fish and groceries, Japanese housewares, take-out sushi and a food court of well-known Japanese restaurants. Carl Swanberg of Highland Partners negotiated the lease on behalf of Mitsuwa Marketplace.

“The addition of Mitsuwa Marketplace further strengthens the tailored merchandise mix at Heritage Plaza by meeting the growing need for Asian products in the surrounding Irvine community,” says Gregg Sadowsky, Regency Center’s senior vice president and market officer.

Mitsuwa Marketplace’s new store is part of a $10 million renovation under way at Heritage Plaza. The center’s transformation will include a new exterior incorporating stone and wood finishes, upgraded architectural components, new landscaping, improved signage, wider pedestrian walkways and energy-efficient lighting in the parking lot.

The renovation is slated for completion this November.

Located at 14474 Culver Drive, one of Irvine’s busiest intersections, Heritage Plaza is home to national retailers such as Ralphs, CVS/pharmacy, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Wendy's, RadioShack and Elephant Bar Restaurant. The center was built in 1981 and acquired by Regency Centers in 1999.

Regency owns 35 shopping centers in the Southern California market, totaling 5.3 million sq. ft. At the end of the first quarter, the company owned or had an ownership interest in 396 retail properties nationally in a portfolio encompassing 52.9 million sq. ft.