DENHAM SPRINGS — Business is picking up after a three-year hiatus, said commercial Realtor Joe Moore, who Wednesday joined in the groundbreaking of a new 10,000 square foot retail center south of the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.
Though a relatively small project, it offers a taste of a resurging economic development pattern that may be soon returning to the area.
Moore, who brokers deals for the ReMax commercial division in Baton Rouge, said the 5-suite Boulevard Park complex that will be anchored by a Rotolo’s Pizzeria and a yet-to-be-named mobile phone store is just the beginning of a huge surge in retail development right around the corner.
“We have signed three deals in two months, so the development is picking up,” said Moore, who sees signs all around that financing has loosened up considerably since the economic collapse of 2008, and national chains and franchises are becoming aggressive once more with their expansion plans.
One of the hot spots will be in and next to the Denham Springs Economic Development District anchored by Bass Pro and Sam’s, which opens next week. The Boulevard Park complex will be turned over to tenants in November to build their interiors with an expected February 2013 opening. Meanwhile, Moore said he will announce later this summer the building of a new fast food franchise on the corner at South Range Avenue and Bass Pro Boulevard. These are only the first steps in a major buildout he expects in the next several years.
A 20,000 square foot shadow retail center south of Sam’s — tentatively named Springside Landing — will target a restaurant and bank as well as boutique stores.
Perhaps the most exciting possibility in the future is a 5-story complex envisioned at the corner of Bass Pro Boulevard and Sac-a-Lait Lane that would include a retail center and restaurant on the ground floor and a hotel on the next four floors above it. The hotel would be situated to have a view of the lake north of Bass Pro. Moore said the building would have shared ownership, like a condo, under this unique concept.
ReMax also is marketing a 4-acre tract next to Sam’s.
Moore said he just returned from the International Conference of Shopping Centers May convention in Las Vegas where participation and interest was way up from recent years. The reason is the availability again of financing to get projects off the ground at record low interest rates.
“If you’re going to start a business and build a building, now’s the time to do it,” Moore said. “That’s why the franchises are back building again.”
Southern states like Texas and Louisiana are particularly well situated for the coming book, he said.
“We’re going to see a lot of new concepts coming to our market from California and Texas,” he predicted.
Moore said the goal of these developments around Bass Pro is to bring some of these new ideas to Denham Springs, but also to create a good mix of national and local retailers offering a variety of goods and services.