As construction crews continue plans for Wal-Mart and developers sign leases for other national retail stores and restaurants, Monument Marketplace looms large in the minds of residents and businesses.
Many businesses welcome the new development, which, in addition to the already-open Home Depot, includes a Kohl’s in its future. Chili’s will be the first national restaurant chain to join the development. The company signed a lease for 1.8 acres at the site, and construction has already started.
“I think it’s a positive,” said Lee Frisbe, pharmacist at Monument Pharmacy. “Of course, I don’t have to compete with them. I have a niche that Wal-Mart doesn’t – I am a compounder for veterinary medicine, and that’s something they don’t deal with at all.”
Frisbe said he has heard only positive remarks about the development from fellow retailers in downtown Monument.
“We don’t really have any clothing stores or shoe stores here,” he said. “I haven’t heard that much discussion; we’re not worried about it here. We’re all small businesses in Monument and I think the customer service we all provide will keep people coming to the shops here.”
Located off Jackson Creek Parkway, between Highway 105 and Interstate 25, Monument Market Place will provide 650,000 square feet of retail space in an area that lacks many services, said Mark Useman, senior marketing director for Sierra Commercial Real Estate, the company responsible for leasing the development.
But some retailers question the need for the development, and are preparing to compete with the world’s largest retailer.
“We’re always opposed to Wal-Mart,” said Woody Woodworth, owner of High Country Feed and Garden. “But we knew they were coming here, and we’ve taken steps to make sure we’ll have very little of what they carry in our store.”
When Wal-Mart first expressed interest in building a store in Monument, Woodworth said he started changing his inventory, focusing on local garden items and plants, wine-making supplies and high-end animal food supplies.
“It’s hard to compete with Wal-Mart as far as their annuals are concerned,” he said. “The superstores have garden centers that are around 32,000 square feet. It’s difficult to price point the same things with them. But they don’t have the same quality. Our quality sets us apart – we have things they don’t have.”
Woodworth said his garden store focuses on annuals and perennials that are locally grown and able to withstand short growing seasons and frigid winter weather.
“We’ve been proactive,” he said. “And we know it will affect us some. People will comparison shop. But, again, Home Depot has been here a while, and it actually helped us. We had the best garden season we’ve ever had last year. So, Wal-Mart and Home Depot can fight it out on the other side of the highway; I think we’ll be fine here. We’ve been part of the community for a long time, and the community will continue to come here.”
The area welcomes the sales tax revenue national chains will bring to the city, said Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Steve Spry.
“The biggest thing is that it will bring in sales tax revenue,” he said. “And we’ll be able to improve the downtown area and some of the parks. It will really improve the dynamics of the community. We can add some improvements to the open spaces as well.”
The mammoth retail development will bring more jobs to the area as well, he said.
“People won’t have to commute 20 or 30 minutes into the Springs,” he said. “And we need these kinds of general services and other developments in the area.”
The retail development is following rooftops, Spry said. More than 2,000 new homes have been approved inside the Monument city limits.
“We’ve seen a real change in the dynamics of the community,” he said. “We used to attract a lot of retired people, but now we’re seeing families who are drawn to the open space and want to get out of city life. We have a great school district that’s driving growth as well. The acres of retail development are really going to add to that lifestyle.”