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Cottage Grove sees retail interest at convention; LA Fitness, Chipotle, Maurices highlighted

After a recent two-day showing at the International Council of Shopping Centers retail convention in Las Vegas, local officials said Cottage Grove could soon be home to LA Fitness, Chipotle, Maurices and other similar retail businesses.

For the fourth consecutive year, the city attended the ICSC convention last month hoping to draw potential retailers to the city.

Mayor Myron Bailey said businesses are attracted to Cottage Grove.

"This was a very encouraging year at the convention," Bailey said. "Part of it was that it just felt different from years past in the sense that the comments we were hearing were related to the fact that Cottage Grove is beginning to build again. We are over the worst part of the recession."

Most notably different from previous trips to the convention were the potential building plans for the Shoppes at Cottage Grove retail center near the Walmart being built on East Point Douglas Road. The two distinct renderings were shown to various businesses and Bailey said they were received well.

"There were a lot of questions about land prices and the city's infrastructure costs," he said. "It was very good to hear those questions because when you are getting into those kinds of discussions that means they are seriously interested."

Economic Development Director Danette Parr said while the proposed plans for the Shoppes at Cottage View are still just concept designs, the renderings sparked the interest of multiple developers at the conference.

"It's up to the developers and the council to determine the way it will look but the people we talked to were very excited about the concept," Parr said. "There is a great deal of flexibility to the plans in the respect that we showed them two options. People get excited when they can actually visualize what the future of this could be."

While in Las Vegas, Bailey and Parr met with more than two dozen potential retail companies including TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Burlington Coat Factory, Maurices and Chipotle. After a citizen social media campaign was started in an attempt to bring Chipotle to Cottage Grove, Bailey said he made it a point to speak with the company.

"Chipotle, Famous Footwear and Maurices have told us that as soon as someone puts up a site that they are here," he said.

The recent groundbreaking of the 180,000-square-foot Walmart, which is anticipated to anchor the Shoppes at Cottage View development, wasn't widely known in Las Vegas, but Bailey said developers have been watching the housing market boom and for a potential Home Depot deal.

"This shows that people are following what is going on in Cottage Grove and they are aware of our development proposals at Home Depot," he said. "There was a lot of appreciation for us being proactive. A message we heard a lot was that some cities put up roadblocks and don't allow businesses. While in Cottage Grove, we are actively recruiting and trying to bring in as much business as we can."

Home Depot rights signed over, leases forthcoming

Earlier last month Bailey confirmed that the vacant Home Depot site is expected to soon have new tenants but until recently was not able to divulge much information.

"There is a gentleman who has the rights to the Home Depot building right now and he has put the money down," Bailey said last week. "He has five months to put together all the leases and has said that he thinks he can get it done before that."

Currently, the developer has one main lease with LA Fitness, a company that was said to open last year but failed to reach a development agreement and the project was scrapped.

With a new deal in the works, LA Fitness would occupy the majority of the Home Depot site leaving room for two or three small end users or potentially a Hobby Lobby, Bailey said.

"There is a fair amount of expressed desire in this building," Parr added. "But, I don't want to confirm anything until those offers are solid."

The vacant Home Depot site anchors the Gateway development in Cottage Grove and once filled, could entice other retailers to occupy the vacant Hollywood Video and bingo hall sites. Bailey said interested end users are waiting to see what develops in Home Depot. However, he added that a restaurant company is interested in the Hollywood Video site but would not confirm or deny any speculations.

"If we are able to fill those two vacant sites I think that will make people feel really good about business in Cottage Grove," Bailey added.