ST. GEORGE — Construction will soon begin on a class-A mixed-use commercial development that has been 15 years in the making in the southwest business district of St. George.
Doug Scheel, senior vice president of Colliers International, who has been brought in to facilitate leasing the space, said the 130,000-square-foot Commerce Pointe project, located on 16 acres at the intersection of South Bluff Street, Black Ridge Drive and the Interstate 15 Exit 6 interchange is ideal because with any development, it’s location, location, location.
“When you talk about the interchange and high traffic counts caused by people living in the area who have to travel that way just to get to I-15, it makes it a pretty good nucleus for (customers) and access to the freeway,” Scheel said.
After months of brainstorming what the ideal mix of tenants might include, Scheel said, a clear vision of retail, office space, entertainment and restaurants began to take shape.
Currently, there are approximately 23,000-square-feet of office space preleased.
Other tenants include Jersey Mike’s Subs, Blaze Pizza, Crumbl Cookies, Mo’ Bettahs Hawaiian style food, Taco Bell, Beans & Brews, Verizon, LongHorn Steakhouse and a second-full service St. George location for Chick-fil-A.
“As part of the development, we’ve put together what we believe will be a very successful project,” Scheel said. “This will create the energy and excitement that St. George really needs, and this excitement will bring other tenants to the crowd.”
Success breeds success, he said, and as the project builds out during the next couple of years it has the potential to energize, strengthen and invigorate the southwest gateway to the city.
Steve Jennings, president of JMI Property Services, the project’s developer and manager, said there were many factors, including infrastructure improvements, that played a factor in the evolution of the project that has taken more than a decade from conception to recent groundbreaking activities.
“It’s been a long time in the making working with the city of St. George and the Utah Department of Transportation,” Jennings said. “The timeline is a result of working through some challenges that also included market conditions that have been just not right.”
Just the rolling-up-your-sleeves aspect of attracting tenants was also a labor of love to the Commerce Pointe project.
“This tenant lineup represents approximately four years of meetings and attending conferences in Las Vegas,” Jennings said. “It really represents meeting after meeting and good old hard work.”
Jennings also gave kudos to the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, along with the work of the St. George Chamber of Commerce, for attracting commercial projects like Commerce Pointe.
“They do a really good job of putting this area on the map,” he said. “This is a big factor that has paid off in economic development.”
Economists say that other factors locally that give a value-added attractiveness to development in Southern Utah include the St. George campus of Dixie State University, Dixie Regional Medical Center, Zion National Park, St. George Regional Airport and the blossoming Tech Ridge.
“I think all of these things are converging to put St. George on the map,” Jennings said. “All of this helps our story when we venture out to the national market to sell a project like this.”
One of their sound bites, he added, is the town’s demographics.
“The numbers don’t tell the whole story,” Jennings said. “The numbers don’t capture the yearly rental market or the second-home market. There are specific weekends our population might be 50 percent higher than what it is during the rest of the year.”
A good judge of the economic viability, he said, can be based on sales tax – a figure that can drive development.
Scheel said when one considers economic development, the proof is in the pudding.
“Look at Chick-fil-A,” he said. “They do extensive due diligence on the market when they come into an area. To open a second restaurant in the St. George market is a big deal. Not only do we love Chick-Fil-A and other restaurants like the LongHorn Steakhouse, but other national retailers love these as well.”
When negotiating with other potential tenants, Scheel said, the conversation becomes that much easier when you can throw restaurants of this caliber into the mix.
Jennings added that he thinks people will also be excited with the rest of our tenants.
“A few will be new to the market,” he said, “and St. George will be open to having a diverse mix of restaurants.”
When it comes to possible entertainment opportunities, Jennings is playing his cards close the vest. He said many things could fall into this category but added it is too soon to announce any concrete plans or tenants.
In a perfect world, the walls on the first office space will go vertical in the next few weeks, with a tenant move-in date scheduled for summer. Project officials say that completion on the entire project is at least two years away.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Scheel said. “It’s been a long time coming to get national tenants to focus on St. George. I think with this project there is only more to come.”
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