Wal-Mart spending millions on store rehabilitations

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About half of the area’s Wal-Mart stores are in the midst of a remodel.

On the list are five of its 11 Pikes Peak region stores (that includes three Sam’s Clubs), all part of a broader strategy to revitalize the retailer’s bricks-and-mortar image.

The first makeover occurred at the city’s busiest store off East Platte Avenue near The Citadel mall and was completed earlier this year. Work has begun on a second store at 8250 Razorback Road near the Chapel Hills mall. A third store near Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard is next on the list.

The updates include mostly moving a few walls and clearing out the aisles, usually during the night or at less busy times of the day, said company spokesman Josh Phair.

But that’s only part of the story.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. late last month announced it had promoted Bill Simon to head its slumping U.S. stores division following four straight quarters of sluggish sales growth.

Simon had been a driving force behind the retailer’s highly successful adoption of its $4 prescription program, as well as its decision to remodel and de-clutter the discounter’s older stores.

Phair said the company’s broader strategy will include reworking its entire operation by adding new lighting, computer systems and reviewing its merchandizing mix.

“We’re taking a look at whether (stock) is in the right place and right quantities,” he said, adding that customers have driven some of the changes.

“They want a more efficient shopping experience, fewer middle-of-the aisle displays and want to be able to see from one end of the store to another.”

Peak Commercial Properties owner/broker John Rodgers has leased a 30,000-square-foot warehouse to Wal-Mart for storage while work is under way at the stores.

A few local subcontractors also will benefit from Wal-Mart’s repositioning campaign.

All of the remodels are expected to be complete in the next 12 months.

Foreclosures sprinkled unevenly

The El Paso County Public Trustee’s report for June contained some good news, with foreclosure starts down by 350, or 12 percent, on a year-over-year basis to the lowest monthly total since November 2008.

Cascade, Rockrimmon, Elbert, eastern Black Forest and Manitou Springs saw the fewest new foreclosure starts.

Four Zip codes saw the biggest drop in foreclosure starts so far this year: 80809 (Cascade, down 43 percent); 80925 (Security/Fountain); 80921 (Gleneagle/Northgate) and 80905 (west side).

Five Zip code areas still struggled, however, said Public Trustee Tom Mowle.

Those included 80924 (Cordera, up 65 percent); 80908 (Black Forest); 80808 (Calhan); 80911 (Security/Widefield) and 80133 (Palmer Lake).

“The greatest increase in foreclosure starts seems to be in the northern part of the county, though both Gleneagle and Falcon are north and their rates dropped,” Mowle said.

Colarelli tapped by Everest College

Work at Corporate Ridge Office and Technology Center –the former Intel campus — is destined to keep a fair number of local firms busy in coming months.

So far, Colarelli Construction and its subcontractors are working on a $2.7 million office space remodel for Everest College’s new operation there.

With El Paso County set to begin its first move-ins later this summer, that pace is likely to pick up.

Can it be?

CoreLogic, a national real estate analytics firm, is reporting that Colorado Springs’ home prices are not only stable, they’re on the rise.

In fact, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 3.1 percent in March, compared to the same period a year earlier — and April’s statistics were trending upward as well.

That compares favorably with the national statistics for March that showed a 1 percent increase in home prices.

Luxury-home specialists such as Becky Gloriod, Trish Ingels and Kevin Patterson, however, caution that the upper end of the market has not yet seen the uptick.

Entertainment fills Market Center

Market Center at 4474 Austin Bluffs Parkway has added 8,000-square-foot tenant Shotz Laser Tag and Billiards.  The new tenant was represented by Greg Kaufman of Landmark Commercial Group. Simon Penner of CameronButcher represented the landlord, Colorado Market Center LP.

Retailer joins Promenade Shops

In good news for the city’s busy north-side lifestyle center, Complete Nutrition Center has opened in The Promenade Shops at Briargate.  The company leased 1,600 square feet of retail space and was represented by Mark Useman and Lori Ondrick of Sierra Commercial Real Estate.  The listing broker was Alison Thompson who represented owner Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers.

Becky Hurley may be reached at becky.hurley@csbj.com or 719-329-5235.