Thursday, April 13, 2006

Developer Shops for Retail Anchor

Developer Shops for Retail Anchor
By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - Bill Mellerup does a different kind of grocery shopping.

While most of us search for the best produce, Mellerup searches for the best grocery store to sell that produce.

Mellerup works for Lewis Planned Communities, a developer set to build a large retail center at the intersection of Clay Bank Road and Air Base Parkway. It will be known as Laurel Creek Plaza.

The center's main attraction will be - you guessed it - a grocery store.

Right now the developer is considering two grocery chains: Safeway and Nugget Markets.

"Both of those supermarkets provide a wide range of services and products," Mellerup said. "Our center is to be more upscale. We're looking for a good quality, upscale anchor."

Mellerup was still at least six months away from announcing which supermarket will be the anchor.

"It takes a while to make these very large complicated transactions," he said.

Construction of the center won't begin for at least two years.

The retail project is part of a larger development by Lewis Planned Communities. The developer is also building

2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres known as The Villages, which will be located next to the shopping center.

The idea behind the development, endorsed by the City Council, is to create a community where people complete routine tasks such as grocery shopping without leaving their neighborhood - thus cutting down on traffic and air pollution.

Some City Council members expressed their desire to see Nugget Market get the choice retail spot.

"We'd love to have a specialty grocery store such as Nugget," Councilman Jack Batson said. "Because we have an increasingly sophisticated citizenry that demands a more sophisticated selection of foods."

But the council cannot dictate to Lewis Planned Communities which grocery store to choose.

"It's up to them. The grocery store will go in that can make decent profits," Batson said.

Currently, the developer plans to construct a

55,256-square-foot building for the grocery store - comparable to the Safeway on Waterman Avenue.

In total, the shopping center will house 110,026 square feet of retail space and include a gas station on 11.52 acres.

The center will also include a 15,580-square-foot drug store and three smaller retail strips ranging in size from 9,750 square feet to 3,500 square feet. The retail strips will include restaurants, shops and perhaps a bank, Mellerup said.

"After we've settled on our major anchor, we'll work on the next level which is filling the smaller and mid-level stores," he said.

Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or

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