LAWTON — It's almost like Lawton is growing itself a town.
The first phase of $45 million Lawton Marketplace, 350,000 square feet of stores by Dallas-based developer Hunt Properties Inc., is under way after years of delays at NW 82nd St. and Quanah Parker Trailway.
First in — and first on people's minds — is a Target, which will take more than one-third of the space, some 134,000 square feet. Also in the first phase will be an Academy Sports & Outdoors and TJ Maxx, said Jeff Williams, vice president of Hunt Properties.
Dirt work began earlier this month. Stores are planned to open next summer.
“This is a project we've been working on for the better part of four years so it's gratifying to finally see construction under way,” Williams said.
Other stores are signed for the shopping center, as well. David Cassman, vice president of development for Hunt Properties, told the Lawton Constitution that stores will include Famous Footwear, Kirkland's, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant, PetSmart and Chuck E. Cheese.
Street and signal work is planned to handle the increase in traffic, the Lawton paper reported.
KSWO-TV reported that Lawton Marketplace is the biggest retail project in Lawton in 35 years. It sent TV reporter Scott Miller into poetry in a Sept. 9 report: “Texans toiling in tractors, turning topsoil,” he said of crews with Hill & Wilkinson, a Dallas-area contractor doing the work.
It is huge for Lawton and southwest Oklahoma. People living around the site “had to stop and take it all in,” Miller said, “after years and years of waiting.”
The developer did not explain the delay, but the credit crunch and recession stalled retail projects on most drawing boards four years ago. National credit markets took no notice of thriving local markets such as Lawton-Fort Sill.
The Lawton area “is a severely under-retailed market,” Williams said, noting that Lawton Marketplace is 95 percent pre-leased.
“We're currently in negotiations with several other national retailers that will bring the project to over 400,000 square feet,” he said.
Hunt Properties owns, operates and develops properties in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona and Florida. It also has developments in Oklahoma City, Yukon, Bixby and Owasso.