YAKIMA, Wash. — Developers have a clear vision for West Valley: big-box retailers and grocery stores flanked by condos or apartments and smaller retail shops. They see something similar to Redmond Town Center, a shopping center integrated into a housing development east of Seattle.
Since the 220,000-square-foot Wal-Mart supercenter was erected at Nob Hill Boulevard and 64th Avenue four years ago, traffic has been good, drawing interest from developers and other prospective retailers, said Bill Moultray, co-owner of Moultray Real Estate.
Now that the recession is over and the economy is picking up, area developers are anticipating a strong uptick in commercial development, mostly in West Valley, he said.
“That area is going to be the next big retail growth, there’s no doubt about it,” Moultray said. “Wal-Mart has landed, that’s a big elephant. They land where they want, and now the rest of the development will follow in time,” he said.
A retail study being conducted for the city of Yakima is showing the city overall has great potential for retail growth, said Yakima’s Economic Development manager, Sean Hawkins.
“I think if you talk to the community as a whole, they’re leaving this area to shop because our offerings are not meeting their needs, and I think that’s where the demand is,” he said.
So far, Wal-Mart’s presence has attracted a coffee shop and a bank to nearby commercial lots. Walgreens, which is on the adjacent corner, also attracts its share of traffic. Now, Wal-Mart plans to put a gas station of its own in the last available space that faces Nob Hill Boulevard.
But development in the immediate area won’t end there, Moultray said. He said he’s working with a prospective business that also wants to locate nearby.
The business, which he said he could not identify at this time, has the potential to lure another 500 cars a day. “This is a prospective tenant or owner that is interested in landing in that area,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that causes others to come in.”
Eventually, the Nob Hill corridor between 64th and 72nd avenues and within city limits will be lined with restaurants, grocery stores, and condos and apartments, Moultray predicted.
Hawkins said he can see that happening because the infrastructure is already in place. “I think there is tremendous possibility out there and I also think it can be done in a way that is very attractive and blend in with the surrounding area,” he said.
The concept of mixing retail with residential in the same development may be a good fit for West Valley, where people generally have higher incomes, but are isolated from Interstate 82, said Dave McFadden, president of New Vision, the Yakima County Development Association.
“It’s really trying to create a living area than just a shopping center,” he said. “From an activity standpoint, the Redmond Town Centers are attractive to people. It’s much more that just pulling into a large parking lot and going into a large shopping center. It’s THE new mall and it’s got different attributes.”
Because West Valley is isolated from the main thoroughfare into the city, retail business would be highly interested in drawing from immediate neighborhoods rather than the masses coming off of a freeway, he said.
“I have a sense that if it’s done, it will probably go well,” he said.
And there is plenty of property in the area, about 200 acres that Congdon Orchards is looking to develop, said real estate broker Bill Almon Jr.
“I think the area is prime to break loose,” he said.
But the key is finding a larger retailer — one equivalent to Lowe’s — to come into the area and serve as an anchor store, Almon said.
But finding an interested business that’s not intimidated by locating across the street from Wal-Mart will be challenging, he said.
A store like Lowe’s, however, would be complementary to Wal-Mart, he said.
“That would be someone big enough to go out there that would start some action,” he said.
Other options would be a Gold’s Gym or a Dick’s Sporting Goods, Almon added.
“Wal-Mart is a necessary evil,” he said. It creates movement, but it’s scary going in next to them so you’ve got to find someone that’s going to be complementary.”
Average income levels in the West Valley area are a strong lure for retail, Moultray said. The average annual income per household in the area of the Rosauers shopping center at 72nd Avenue and Tieton Drive is $64,000, and it’s even higher, at $84,000, just a half-mile away in the area of the Chalet Place shopping center at Summitview and 56th avenues.
“So you’ve got the two highest income households in the Valley around these two shopping centers,” he said.
With those shopping centers filled with retailers, more development is inevitable, Almon said.
“I think it will break loose in the next three years,” he said. “I think you’re going to see some significant retail development around the 64th Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard in the next three years.”
• Phil Ferolito can be reached at 509-577-7749 or email@example.com.