Big-box retailers boost Greeley’s retail scene

Greeley’s interested in attracting more local retailers to its downtown but it can thank national big-box operators on the west side of the city for helping lowering its vacancy rates.

Year-over-year, vacancy rates in the retail sector citywide have decreased from 15.02 percent in second-quarter 2009 to 14.7 percent in 2010 to 10.2 percent in 2011, according to statistics from Realtec Commercial Real Estates Services’ Greeley office.

Realtec attributes the improvement in figures to a recent boom in shopping centers in west Greeley, most notably the CenterPlace shopping center, located near the intersection of 47th Avenue and Highway 34.

CenterPlace encompasses more than 392,000 square feet and is home to mostly big-box chains and franchises, including Kohl’s, Target, and Famous Footwear. The first anchor stores at the center opened their doors in 2003, and the area hasn’t stopped attracting business.

CenterPlace’s newest tenant, TJ Maxx, will open a 25,000-square-foot, $2.6 million store east of Sports Authority in the complex. Officials at TJ Maxx could not be reached for comment, and the opening date of the store is not yet known. CenterPlace is owned by Regency Centers of Jacksonville, Fla.

Another national chain filling up retail space in Greeley is the King Soopers located at 71st Avenue and 10th Street. Mark Bradley, managing broker at Realtec Greeley, said that the presence of the grocery giant, which opened in late February, will attract more businesses to the area, driving vacancy rates lower still.

There also has been a surge of new construction in the area, according to Becky Safarik, community development director for the city, including a new Burger King and a liquor store. In addition to retail, new office spaces are also underway.

Other business advances in Weld County also are expected to contribute to an improvement in retail figures in the Greeley area, according to Bradley. Employment growth will lead to retail spending, he said, which can only make the area more attractive to businesses.

The late October opening of the Leprino Foods plant in southeast Greeley has created approximately 100 jobs so far, and the folks at Leprino are far from finished. The first phase of construction at the plant is complete, and when all three phases are finished, 500 people will be employed at the facility.

Completion of phase two of the project is expected in November 2012.

Jobs are also being created in Weld County, thanks to the oil and gas companies that have set up shop as a result of the Niobrara oil play. Houston-based Noble Energy’s Highpointe Business Park is set for completion in early 2012 and is expected to house up to 300 employees.

The unemployment rate has decreased in Weld County to approximately 8.5 percent from a high of 11 percent.

“Primary industry job creation is critically important,´ said Bruce Biggi, economic development manager for the city. “It creates an increase in disposable income that can result in more spending at retail outlets of all kinds.”

Downtown Greeley is also experiencing an uptick in activity. In the past three years, 45 businesses have located in the downtown area, and the number is expected to increase as the Downtown Development Authority makes more plans for renewal in the area.

Of the 435 businesses in downtown Greeley, 15.4 percent of them are retailers, according to statistics from the DDA. Attracting more retail is one of the main objectives of the DDA as it moves ahead with a revitalization plan.

For more on the Greeley DDA’s plans, visit

Molly Armbrister covers Real Estate for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at

Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, or

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