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Panda Express Leases Old Blockbuster Video Space

The Chinese fast food eatery is expected to open in the next five or six months.

Panda Express has signed a lease for about a third of the space that was formerly Blockbuster Video at Diablo Plaza in downtown Novato.

The company will lease 2,260 square feet that includes the round tower space that fronts Diablo Avenue, according to broker Jennifer Hibbits with Terranomics, the retail division of Cassidy Turley commercial real estate.

Hibbits said Panda Express will have its construction team work through the standard city approval and permitting processes, and she estimates it will open within the next five or six months. 

The Panda Express Chinese food franchise started in 1983 and has more than 1,500 locations nationwide, according to the company website.  This is the company’s second location in Marin; the other is in the Northgate mall in San Rafael.

Blockbuster announced the closure of its 6,000-square-foot video rental store in December 2011.

The remaining 3,700 square feet of the original Blockbuster site is vacant along with two other interior plaza spaces, according to Hibbits.

"We are actively marketing it and have some interest, but no signed deals yet," Hibbits said.

Mark Burnham August 22, 2012 at 06:04 PM
panda express will do far better than the other chain restaurant on delong (chipolte). that lot will be full.
Tricia Painter McKay August 22, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Yay !!
Bob Ratto August 22, 2012 at 06:52 PM
This is some good news, now maybe someone can do some research and find out what the owners are all about...
Christian Stranne August 22, 2012 at 07:01 PM
It'll be great to have a Panda Express there, but I'm going to miss that Blockbuster a LOT. I have so many memories of going there to pick out a movie or game with my family. They always had the best candy/popcorn selection as well. Classic place. Hopefully Panda Express will be able to fare better.
Ce Nack August 22, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Great news! Too bad they aren't going in at the Novato Square. Easier access in/out of the lot....considering there's hardly any stores there anymore. Why is the owner of the Square not fined for allowing it to become the town eyesore?
Jan S August 22, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Overcooked, greasy, high sodium, flavorless (unless people like the taste of salt and grease), obesity+heart attack food. :( Well that's too bad. Hopefully they won't last and some quality restaurant or other business will eventually take over this primo location.
Craig Belfor August 22, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Right, Bob. Let's put them under the same scrutiny we did on Chick Fil A, making sure their political opinions are in line with ours before we eat their food. Meanwhile the wrappers are made in sweatshops with child labor, but who cares?
Bob Ratto August 22, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Craig We cannot denigrate those children, many of whom aspire to be working in Nike factories in the future.
Jim L August 23, 2012 at 12:31 AM
The best place in Novato is the new one "Mandarin" It is in the days inn Motel. in Novato on Redwood Blvd The food is excellent and great Owners who will give you what you want . I saw it in the advance with a great write up
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) August 23, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I'm sure Brett's favorite rental was 'This is Spinal Tap.'
Abe August 23, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Not a chance. I'm staying with China Express by the Post Office.
Kevin August 23, 2012 at 10:28 PM
No way! It's China Palace near the Chevy dealer!
JR August 24, 2012 at 12:16 AM
We don't need another Fast Food type place
Abe August 24, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Oh yeah - China Palace is my favorite for the nice sit down, but if you want fast food dish out style, China Express is the spot IMHO.
Craig Belfor August 25, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Try Whiterose Ranch for takeout. They won best chef last year. Beat out some pretty good restaurants.
dave August 28, 2012 at 06:35 PM
This is a terrible place to eat. High in sodium and drenched in chemicals such as Msg etc.
dave August 28, 2012 at 06:41 PM
You are right on the money. This is a terrible place to eat loaded with high sodium as much as 40%!!! per dish! and stacked with chemical fillers such as Msg
NB August 29, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Luckily there are so many vacancies throughout Novato (including right there in Diablo) that restaurants that are more appealing to your personal palette have somewhere to move in as well! It's nice to have a quick option other than a burger or Taco Bell in town.
JaneDoe4 September 05, 2012 at 04:07 PM
another fast food type place? yuck!
Darwin Rodas October 27, 2012 at 08:25 PM
You guys think it will effect china express? in a bad way
Ventress Dugan October 27, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I have wanted to try Whiterose Ranch....good to to know....looks like a healthy menu.
bernie gomes November 17, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Novato is not the "valley of gentle seasons" anymore. It's the "ditch of desperate sell outs". Our town is confused and without direction! Keep an eye out on our schools. They are quietly being replaced by charter schools and cheap labor. All high in unhealthy ingredients! Get a window seat and watch your town go by.

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