Last week, I took a look at the top retail and restaurant stories for 2012.
Now that it’s 2013, it’s time to share 10 things I’ll be watching for in the coming year.
Most are directly related to retail and restaurants, but there are few other business developments worth watching.
In no particular order:
1.) What will go into the vacant Valley Mall storefronts? Much of mall owner CenterCal Properties’ efforts last year went into the construction of Washington Plaza at the former Costco property in Union Gap. Though there were ongoing efforts to get a new tenant for the former Borders space at the Valley Mall Plaza — CenterCal CEO Fred Bruning even shared a few possibilities — one has yet to be announced.
Another space at the Valley Mall Plaza will soon be vacant with the pending closure of the Eddie Bauer Outlet. It’s unclear when the shop will close for good.
Finally, Fashion Bug will be closing with the expiration of its lease. CenterCal has already shared that several tenants could fit in the space, but no tenants have been named.
2.) Will Lowe’s open a new store? Last month, Yakima’s hearing examiner denied Union Gap’s appeal of Yakima’s earlier approval for a new store at the northeast corner of Valley Mall Boulevard and Longfibre Road. The opportunity to appeal the hearing examiner decision ends today.
3.) New breweries. Bale Breaker Brewing Co. in Moxee is under construction. And last I heard, Hop Central Brewing Co., which was one of the winners of the 2011 Enterprise Challenge, a local business-plan competition, was still looking to open in downtown Yakima sometime this year. The Yakima Valley has long been known for its hops. Could this be the year the area develops a bigger presence on the brewing side?
4.) Continuing development in West Valley. Namely the area around the Wal-Mart store on 64th Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard. Dutch Bros. Coffee opened in December and Panda Express opened last summer. But there’s still plenty of land awaiting development.
5.) Downtown development standards. Last month, the Yakima City Council voted to have staff develop a master plan and retail development plan for the downtown area. It will be interesting to see what standards are set for the area and how new developments (including a planned McDonald’s) will fit.
6.) Will Blockbuster stay in Yakima? The video rental chain closed two stores last year, leaving just one store at 2706 W. Nob Hill Blvd. Both spaces already have new tenants. Will that store close as well or will it be part of owner DISH Network’s strategy to revamp the company?
7.) New strategies for the holidays. You can bet that retailers are already looking back and planning for this year. Will retailers open even earlier on Thanksgiving?
8.) Fiscal cliff. Yes, there was an 11th-hour plan that passed. But it did not include a payroll tax cut, which will cost the average worker about $1,000 a year. I’m curious how that will affect their spending habits.
9.) A higher profile for Washington wine? Many in the industry had hoped that Gallo’s purchase of two Washington facilities — Covey Run Winery and Columbia Winery — would provide higher exposure to Washington wine.
10.) New eateries. The finalists for the Enterprise Challenge included several potential new eateries — Painted Rocks Brewery, a brewpub planned for West Valley, and the Drawing Board Public House downtown. Both are looking to open this year.
• Mai Hoang’s Reporter’s Notebook is published Mondays in the Marketplace section. To reach her, call 509-759-7851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.