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
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,
“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.
But look at the list of other national and regional newcomers the past 18 months or so — some are still under construction — when most of the rest of the country was still licking its chops:
• Dick's Sporting Goods, under construction on the east side of N Pennsylvania Avenue, north of Memorial Road.
• Sunflower Farmers Markets at 6410 N May Ave., and two more under way at 24 E Second St. in Edmond and 555 W Main St. in Norman. But don't get used to the name: Sunflower and Sprouts Farmers Market are working on a merger under the Sprouts name.
• The Meat House, 2249 W Danforth Road in Edmond. Broker Stuart Graham with CB Richard Ellis is scouting several more locations in the metro
• Dave & Buster's, 5501 N May Ave.
• Anthropologie at 6100 NW Grand Blvd. in The Triangle at Classen Curve.
• Marshalls Department Store, 13730 N Pennsylvania Ave. in Memorial Square Shopping Center, and 1425 W Interstate 240 Service Road in 240 Penn Park Shopping Center.
• Gold's Gym, in a return engagement, at 2237 W Memorial Road, 3625 Northwest Expressway, 1409 E Danforth Road in Edmond, and Gold's Gym Express locations at 7733 S Walker Ave. and 1000 Alameda St. in Norman.
New eateries abound
Specialty eateries are popping up all over or coming soon:
A new Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers in Moore; Ghenghis Grill-The Mongolian Grill, now at 2121 W Memorial Road and 2370 S Interstate 35 in Moore, plans locations in Norman, Midwest City and Edmond; SmashBurger at 2127 W Memorial Road and 7642 W Reno Ave.; and Five Guys Burgers and Fries at 631 SW 19 in Moore and 1401 24th Ave. NW in Norman.
Also, Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, with locations at 12900 N Pennsylvania, 7010 W Hefner Road, 7401 N May, 9000 S Western Ave., 1925 E Second St. in Edmond, and 1525 S I-35 Service Road in Moore, is looking for other sites.
Still looking for a place or places to land, brokers said, are Costco, Fresh Market and Von Maur.
It's been about a generation since Oklahoma City saw so much retail development, and rarely has it been so spread out, said Jim Parrack, senior vice president and retail specialist at Price Edwards & Co.
“Not in a long, long time. Probably ... when that first round of power centers were built. That's been 15 or 20 years,” Parrack said. “We clearly look better than the rest of the country, and that helps. Another thing is we really are doing well on our own.”