Why is Harbor Village deserted?


Posted by on Sun, December 13, 2009

Walked into Harbor Village for the very first time this past week and was shocked to see how little life there was in the place.

Now, as the project was being built, I didn’t think it would be good for the Coastside. It seemed out of scale and didn’t really fit the feel of the community. Up till now, I never had a reason to visit the place.

First off, the entrance to the complex is somewhat hidden from the main road behind the free-standing cafe (who designed that ill-advised arrangement?) Once inside, all I heard was the echoing of my footsteps against a backdrop of hollow Christmas music. There was not a customer in sight.

I think there were only 5-6 stores occupying the mall, with 2 or 3 times that in empty storefronts. It was quite depressing.

I feel for the merchants who surely opened there with high hopes. But the economy, poor promotion, lack of critical mass of stores, and perhaps a flawed business plan for the complex itself, have all conspired to make for a sad situation.

Getting the occupancy rate up would definitely help things. Is the management holding out to a unrealistic price per square foot?

Will new merchants, ones who cater more to locals find more loyal (and regular) customers?

Will increased marketing efforts make a difference?

For me, I don’t think I’ll ever set foot in the place again, and I certainly wouldn’t bring any visitors there.

That is too bad you won’t set foot in that complex again. It is a beautifully designed building with great stores occupying the spaces.  It was bad timing for the opening of the mall, but the owner went ahead with high hopes.  Please support the local shops and maybe there will be a day when the mall stores are all full.  Give it another try, eh?

“...It is a beautifully designed building…”

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I will have to disagree on that one. The (mostly empty) store fronts are arranged along a fake street, complete with fake plastic street lamps, and a fake plastic fence surrounding the outside of the whole dang view-blocking thing.

It should not have been built in the first place, in my opinion, but greed triumphed over good sense, as usual. Karma has a way of dealing with these kind of things.

When that mall was being constructed, I had doubts even then that the Coastside could support such a place.  Then, when it opened and the economy tanked simultaneously, I thought,“Uh oh.”  And there it sits….empty…..

Comment 4
Tue, December 15, 2009 5:13am
Daniel Fiden
All my comments

I agree that there are design issues (did anyone consider ventilation for a design that is essentially a giant greenhouse?), tenant issues (more bookstores!), and plenty of folks who told-ya-so. But we have Harbor Village now, so rather than cheering its demise, let’s think about what might happen if it does fail. What would happen to the structure? What would go in there? Would that be better for the community?

The reality is that the folks who’ve opened up in there are mostly locals. Let’s support them and provide feedback that might improve what we have. For example, what kind of stores are needed in the community? I’ll bet there are some would-be entrepreneurs out there who could get awesome deals on leases right now. Also, what could be improved about Harbor Village? I for one would LOVE to see the cheesy blue neon pulled off of Crab Landing—doesn’t exactly scream “class,” does it?

In short, would I prefer Harbor Village hadn’t been built. Yes. Will seeing it and all in it fail now make me feel better? As much as stabbing my foot does when my shoe’s too tight. Let’s be pragmatic and either deal with the reality of Harbor Village or spend our energy fighting Big Wave.

Comment 5
Tue, December 15, 2009 6:10am
Dean Skelton
All my comments

David, here’s one good reason to go back.

Following is a cut & paste of an invite from The Cabrillo Education Foundation in support of our local school district:


January 23, 2010   7:00 ~ 11:00 PM

The Harbor Village Galleria

Small Bites
Wine & Beer

More information to follow at:

Comment 6
Tue, December 15, 2009 6:55am
Barry Parr
All my comments

The Mezza Luna cafe, outside the mall entrance, is quite nice and well worth a visit.  On a nice day, the outdoor seating is especially pleasant. Even though it’s easy to see, it’s not getting a lot of business right now. Highly recommended.

I don’t think anyone has suggested recommended avoiding the mall for any reason except that it’s not a very pleasant experience.

Comment 7
Tue, December 15, 2009 1:15pm
Lisa Ketcham
All my comments

I wish they’d change the sign out near Hwy 1 that says Half Moon Bay Harbor.  What’s with that?

The little building that houses Mezza Luna Cafe was the first to be built and sat empty for years.  I was told it was built because the development agreement (from the 90’s) said construction had to start by a certain date.

It’s a bummer that Harbor Village was not redesigned by a talented Bay Area architect.

Unfortunately the dated 1980’s architecture is going to require a major remodel/redesign before it attracts visitors and locals for shopping. 

We all share different aesthetics and from my perspective Harbor Village indoor shopping mall is an architectural atrocity.