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Confidence heats up Oklahoma City retail

by Richard Mize Published: March 24, 2012

Something snapped in the commercial property world in Oklahoma City when the calendar turned in 2012:

All retail broke loose.

That's brokers' take on it, anyway.

Not that last year was a dud, although it was a year of recovery.

Oklahoma City retail did not skid to the depths other places did in the Great Recession. Most casualties here — Circuit City, Borders, Blockbuster, Ultimate Electronics — took hits nationally that did them in.

Investment sales of shopping centers did screech to a halt; not one sale occurred in 2009. But while consumer spending and store development here slowed from a roiling boil to a simmer, they never went cold, thanks largely to enviable employment rates. The heat started turning back up last year.

“Last year, it was more of a trickle. But since the first of the year, we've been slammed,” said Mark Inman, a broker with CB Richard Ellis-Oklahoma.

What happened? “Pent-up demand,” Inman said, “and the national publicity has taken off — national publicity that we rightly deserve.”

Broker Carl Archiniaco said the change in recent weeks came on an attitude adjustment.

“I've seen a noticeable change since the first of the year. The confidence is back,” said Archiniaco, a retail property specialist with Grubb & Ellis-Levy Beffort. “These people (national store chains) have to put new stores up to add value for their shareholders. Oklahoma City has moved into (one of the) top places to look.”

Shoppers are loosening the grip they've kept on their cash and credit the past four or five years, Archiniaco said.

“I truly believe there is a confidence in the shopper, and that trickles into confidence in the retailer,” he said. “I see a confidence I haven't seen in four years among the tenants. We've seen some of these national people come back to where they left off in '06 and '07.”

Classen Curve, developed by Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon, was turning heads in 2009 and early 2010 as retail development was stalled elsewhere.

The Outlet Shoppes of Oklahoma City, which got direct assistance from the city of Oklahoma City, while under development in 2009-2011 reportedly was the biggest retail project under way anywhere in the United States.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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