Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sandcreek Commons has come a long way in one year

Workers on the north wall of the Broulim's store at Sandcreek Commons.
It might not seem obvious, but it was a “his and hers” logic that put Cabela’s and Hobby Lobby next door to each other at the Sandcreek Commons shopping center on Hitt Road.

This isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of women who are interested in outdoor and camping gear. But when putting together a 91-acre, $80 million shopping complex it’s all about finding the right mix, said Eric Isom, chief development officer for Ball Ventures, the company driving the project (in which Salt Lake-based Woodbury Corp. is a partner).
Eric Isom of Ball Ventures

On a basic level, Cabela’s is for dad, Hobby Lobby (which opens Aug. 3) is for mom, and both are stores that Idaho Falls and Ammon residents have been driving hundreds of miles to visit now in their back yards.

Phase One, which covers about 40 acres, has room for four anchor tenants. Cabala’s opened in May, Hobby Lobby is scheduled to open its doors Aug. 3 and Broulim’s, the Rigby-based supermarket chain, is on track to have its store open by the end of the year.

As for the last 50,000-square-foot anchor box, “We’re really trying to find the right tenant,” Isom said. “We will be pretty selective.”

Isom said they knew Sandcreek Commons was going to take off in 2015. In early June 2014, at the groundbreaking for D.L. Evans Bank, Cabela’s had already been announced. Once that was public knowledge, the other pieces fell into place. The news about Hobby Lobby and Broulim’s broke in September.

Right now, the nearest Hobby Lobby is in Logan, Utah. “People are excited it’s coming here,” Isom said. When they posted the opening date on Facebook, the news got more than 800 likes in less than an hour.

In addition to the anchor stores, several leases have been signed for space in the 18,639-square-foot retail center, next to the Broulim’s store. Isom said they are careful to let the tenants make the announcements themselves, but said the center will feature what one typically expects in a grocery anchored retail center: fast food, haircut places, etc. 

Eventually, they anticipate developing 320,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and service space.
All this is happening in addition to the development Ball Ventures is doing at Snake River Landing, where the Home2 Suites by Hilton is scheduled to open in late summer and a deal has been made with a residential developer for upmarket condos south of the Curtis-Wright ScienTech offices.

Isom said he is cautiously optimistic about the local economy. Snake River Landing got started in 2007 and had the advantage of leases that had been signed before the recession hit. They also had the advantage of being in a location where people wanted to be.

But with projects in 14 states, as far away as Florida, Isom said he sees what goes on with economic development all over the country and what Idaho could be doing that it isn’t — local option taxes, increment financing on sales taxes, property tax rebates, to name a few.

“In general, we need to continue to find ways to incentivize and encourage economic development,” he said. “We don’t have nearly the tools here in Idaho that there are in other places.”

As it stands, Phase One of Sandcreek Commons — everything happening north of Judy Street — will add nearly $80 million to the local tax base and 1,200 new jobs.
The line outside Cabela's when it opened.