Jul 31

Building Momentum: LJ becoming a prime spot for retailers

With space available and competition growing between retailers to get in Lake Jackson and benefit from the county’s booming economy, it’s going to be more and more common to see small shopping centers pop up in front of some of the city’s larger retail stores, officials said.

Lake Jackson City Manager Bill Yenne said the city is steadily fielding calls from developers who have plans to build spaces on parcels, then lease them out to retail clients.

Just this month, contractors have been working on a building to go next to the Ryan’s Steakhouse on the corner of Highway 332, and crews also are plugging away further down the highway to finish up a multistore building that will be an AT&T outlet and Panera Bread, Yenne said.

Across the street, next to the Fuddruckers, developers have announced plans for a Raising Cane’s restaurant, which specializes in fried chicken and french fries, he said.

A lot of the calls he’s been getting have been for mobile phone stores, mattress companies and other businesses that want to fill needs they see within the community, Yenne said.

“It’s just what the businesses want to do,” he said. “I guess there’s more of a need for these type of facilities.”

All of the interest shows businesses have a lot of confidence in the city as a marketplace, Yenne said. Along with the smaller outparcels, there also have been some bigger ideas tossed around in recent weeks, he said.

City Council on Monday approved rezoning a tract of land on Lake Road behind the Hobby Lobby to make way for a four-story La Quinta Inn. The new hotel would be constructed with the franchise’s “Del Sol” design, which would make the city the second in the state with that branding, Yenne said.

“There are some bigger things. The mall has some plans in the works, and the folks at H-E-B, as well as some other things around town,” Yenne said. “We’re hoping to provide a whole lot of new options for residents. We’ll just have to see.”

Anderson Smith’s company, Capital Retail Properties, is putting out feelers for a client for a possible site for new businesses in front of Target on Highway 332.

Smith said there is a lot of competition to establish a site in Lake Jackson right now.

“There are a lot of things happening down there,” he said.

Smith said he couldn’t yet discuss what, if anything, the project would be because nothing has been finalized, but he could say he is working with a client that owns the lot adjacent to Target.

Neal Wade, whose company, Baker Katz, already owns the Ryan’s lot and commissioned a new 4,300-square-foot building to go alongside it, believes the city is a prime spot for retailers right now — especially any open area off Highway 288 and Highway 332.

“With the mall in Lake Jackson, the closest mall outside of that would be in Pearland, which is what, 40 minutes away?” he said. “It captures a customer base within a larger area than most businesses would normally have. People are going to drive further than the typical 3 miles to shop there.”

The building being constructed is set to be home to Verizon Wireless, which now sits on the other side of the street in front of the mall, Wade said. Company representatives wanted to change the location to better compete with the other cellphone stores popping up, he said.

With a stable income base because of the industrial partners in the area, and a housing boom that is set to bring in multiple apartment complexes as well as single-family homes, businesses want to be a part of the area as it transitions, Wade said.

“It’s seems like Lake Jackson is expanding,” he said. “I feel like we’re always looking at new opportunities in Lake Jackson.”

His company also recently bought the lot of the old OfficeMax store, which closed after the company’s merger with Office Depot, and also would snatch up and convert more land in the area if it became available, Wade said.

“We’re working on something for that location and we would look to purchase again,” he said. “We would definitely invest in another property if the opportunity came up.”