Economic Development, Human Resources, and Retail

New year brings jobs to Bucktown

Grandville retail center looks like an economic engine.

December 22, 2012
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New year brings jobs to Bucktown
Sam Cummings, left, and Scott Wierda of CWD Real Estate Investment see the new Bucktown development as an economic catalyst for the Grandville area. Photo by Johnny Quirin

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Not that the partners at CWD Real Estate Investment are thinking of changing the name of their Bucktown Shopping Center to the Jobtown Shopping Center, but they could.

The 45-acre urban retail development in Grandville, not far from the RiverTown Crossings Mall, will likely reach a job-creation number of more than 400 by this spring — and possibly come close to 500 — when Lane Bryant and Cabela’s open there.

The two retailers and their new employees will join Target, ULTA, Maurices and a Meijer gas station and the jobs those businesses have already brought to the shopping center.

CWD partner Scott Wierda told the Business Journal his firm doesn’t count every job the retailers have brought or are planning to bring to the shopping center, so he didn’t have an exact total. But he is certain that Bucktown has become an economic catalyst and will continue to be one.

“This is really going to have a strong economic impact. Now, Cabela’s isn’t announcing officially how many visitors will be there, but in conversations, it’s estimated between 2 (million) to 2.5 million people will come to visit Cabela’s annually. So it’s big, and that will have implications for, certainly, the region.”

Wierda added that most noteworthy tenants draw customers from roughly a 10-mile radius, but visitors to Cabela’s will come from a 90-mile radius. “The whole western half of the state will shop here,” he said.

Besides the draw it will bring to Bucktown, Cabela’s also will be the next big job creator there. It recently announced it will employ up to 200 workers at its 88,000-square-foot store at 3000 44th St. SW. The very popular sporting-goods retailer, which also has a store in Dundee, plans to open in March and the firm just completed job interviews last week.

Getting Cabela’s to locate a store here is an economic victory for the area, especially after a multi-year effort to bring one to Walker failed. Wierda said his firm didn’t have Cabela’s on its radar screen when it began developing the site, as CWD already had landed Target as an anchor store. But then CWD learned that executives at the sporting-goods chain had changed their philosophy about locating in new markets.

“The model of going to virgin land out in the country, getting all sorts of state incentives and building their store was not a sustainable model. They realized they really wanted to grow the company, and that was not a model that would do it,” said Wierda. “So they made the decision corporately to become more of a traditional retailer and stick to fundamentals.”

The company’s new model looks for the right retail populations and locations where the proper infrastructure is already in place. With that change, Cabela’s can now be part of a mature shopping district with a proven track record. And Grandville fit the new model. “They specifically said that they had a model change and they contacted us through a broker,” he said.

Right from the start, Wierda said he told store executives there wouldn’t be a basket of incentives for Cabela’s to come to Grandville. “They said they understood that, and we were able to put a deal together. I wouldn’t say it’s a deal that CWD really makes money on, but it becomes such a tremendous anchor, along with Target. Clearly, Target was enough of an anchor to kick the project off and be successful on its own. Target really is one of the best anchors to get in a marketplace.”

CWD bought the property, which once belonged to X-Rite Inc., in January 2009 and then demolished the structures on the site to clear it for development. Wierda said his firm liked the property’s location and the amenities the site offered.

“Probably first and foremost, we’re fairly disciplined buyers. A property has to have all of the right fundamentals in terms of its location. This was a mature area with a tremendous corridor with all the infrastructure in place or available, and in, frankly, a very nice, strong community” he said.

“We tend not to pioneer areas, as a rule, and that area was an established area. We were attracted by the fact we were buying a great piece of property and it had a lot of the right fundamentals.”

CWD has begun construction on another building on a parcel it still owns, and the plan is to put smaller retail businesses in those storefronts. “There is a lot going on there,” said Wierda.

Bucktown is an interestingly different name for a retail center. Wierda said there were a few fun-loving reasons CWD gave it that name, but one was clearly more important than the others.

“From a city perspective, you have Buck Creek that runs through Grandville. You have, obviously, a Cabela’s store, which is involved with the buck. And, perhaps, the most enjoyable one is the name of the mayor,” he said of Jim Buck.

Buck is the city’s longest-serving mayor, at 28 years, and likely the most respected in the city’s recent history. Naming the center after the mayor wasn’t a conflict of interest; the partners chose the name long after the city approved the project. “He is a mayor’s mayor, and we have affection for him,” said Wierda. “He is a fabulous, fabulous man.”

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