Restaurant-brewery moving into University Village

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BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse is scheduled to open open in a 7,700 square-foot space at the north end of the University Village shopping center Aug. 30.

“This is good evidence of our improving local economy,” said Kratt Commercial Properties President Kevin Kratt, who developed the property along with Tom Cone of Olive Real Estate Group and Diamante Properties.

Kratt and his partners earned urban renewal status for the project, used tax increment financing to help fund it and broke ground on the 650,000-square-foot shopping center in March of 2008.

The developer gained commitments from major anchors Costco, Kohl’s and Lowes Home Improvement, but national and local economies fell soon after.

Despite the tough economic climate, Costco opened in October 2009, while Kohl’s and Lowes opened in March 2010. In the meantime, developers have also leased 50 percent of the outlying retail structures to Panera Bread, Chipotle, Veda Salon, Keva Juice and Noodles and Co.

Though consumer spending has dropped considerably over the past few years, Kratt said it has only delayed completion of the property for two to three years.

Seven of the project’s 14 proposed retail buildings are now complete.

“Moving forward we’ll construct buildings for new tenants or junior anchors as we lease them,” Kratt said. “We just completed construction of the Famous Footwear building and they opened July 26.”