Home Business Joe Harvey commercial frontage all taken. Where next?

Joe Harvey commercial frontage all taken. Where next?

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Joe Harvey commercial frontage all taken. Where next?

Levi Hill/News-Sun

The one-mile stretch of Joe Harvey Boulevard from Grimes to Lovington Highway has long been the epicenter of commercial development in Hobbs.

But with less than a handful of spaces left, the prime real estate on Joe Harvey is almost gone — and soon there may be no room left.

“It is functionally full,” said Rodger Gray, local real estate developer who sold many of the lots along Joe Harvey in years past. “I still have some land behind the Walgreens, but pretty much all the available land has been used.”

Gray said there are a few “non-prime” locations behind existing structures along Joe Harvey, but the last of the prime locations are about to be filled up.

At the corner of Joe Harvey and Central is a former computer retail location that is currently being remodeled by Kassis Companies. Company President Nadeem Kassis said he has no contracts for tenants for that building he can announce at this time.

Across Joe Harvey to the north is a lot next to TownePlace Suites that was once owned by Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb. That location is now slated to be the home of High Desert Relief, a medical and recreational marijuana company based in Albuquerque and expanding into Hobbs.

Then there is the former Quizno’s building on the south side of Joe Harvey. Rivas Real Estate is listed as the owner of that property.

Leeroy Rivas, owner of Rivas Real Estate, said that building was leased out in July 2023, but the lessee has yet to move on a development for the structure.

“I don’t know when it will be up and running,” he said. “I don’t think he knows exactly what he wants to do with it yet.”

Hobbs Realtor Bobby Shaw said he represented the lessee in the deal for the Joe Harvey Quizno’s location and the plan is for a New York-style deli.

“He is just waiting for his construction guys to finish a project in another part of the country,” Shaw said.

Beyond that there is a small lot between Buffalo Wild Wings and the Mighty Wash that could be home to something, and across the street is a lot between the new Martin Boot Company and James Polk Stone Bank that is currently under development with a Japanese Steakhouse coming soon sign out front.

There is a larger lot behind Martin Boot that is partially owned by Gray and partially owned by the same owners as Home2 Suites by Hilton.

Gray sold the lot to the Home2 Suites company and said it was targeted for another hotel the company planned to build, but hasn’t begun work on.

Gray said his own parcel isn’t in the prime location along the Joe Harvey frontage and will require the right kind of development to be viable.

The same is true of the lot next to Buffalo Wild Wings, currently owned by Kassis Companies.

Kassis said that location will likely never sell.

“It won’t ever sell. It’s got such a large easement on it,” he said of a road right-of-way easement that bisects the property.

That just leaves the Japanese Steakhouse lot and a lot north of the Baymont Inn just off Joe Harvey on Central as the lots available for development.

The Japanese Steakhouse is under development by Kevin Liu, owner of Tokyo Steakhouse in the Big Lots Shopping Center on Bender.

Kevin’s son, Jerry, said his father purchased the lot in 2016, knowing it’s where he wanted to go and other’s wanted to be there too.

“We have had a lot of folks offer to buy the land,” Jerry said. “But the reason we kept it was for future investment. That is the main reason and the foot traffic, of course.”

The location will replace the existing Tokyo Steakhouse on Bender under the company’s new moniker Kobe Steakhouse and is expected to be open in January 2025.

Andres Areolla, owner of Areolla Chiropractic and Drylands Brewery in Lovington, confirmed he does own the lot off Joe Harvey on Central north of the Baymont.

“I do have plans for that. It is in the works,” he said.

He said the location is not currently targeted as the replacement for The Taproom, which is moving from its 502 W. Navajo location.


Where to next?

With all the space along Joe Harvey pretty much taken, what is next for developers?

It’s a difficult question. For some retail companies it may be a waiting game.

“Location is key,” Gray said. “If you are not bumped up against the infrastructure already, you can’t afford to put out a million or two.”

He said there is a decided lack of potential “hot spots” for development that have the water, sewer and other infrastructure in place to lure big box retailers.

Shaw agreed, saying he’s in talks with a developer looking to build a 40,000-square-foot retail location, but locations are sparse.

“He wants prime frontage,” Shaw said, adding there isn’t much out there. “He’s looking around the CORE.”

Shaw said there is some land around the CORE at the corner of Lovington Highway and Millen that could be developed into retail, but it is still not as desirable as it could be because the railroad tracks separate that land from direct access to Lovington Highway.

“There is some decent spots there for retail and restaurants,” Shaw said.


Keeping it small

There is some room for smaller retailers around Hobbs along Navajo and even north of Joe Harvey along Grimes where Kassis is building a third shopping center near Del Norte Park.

However, a lot of these “in-fill” locations are not always in the most desired areas.

As Gray says, the intersection of Grimes and Joe Harvey is one of the two busiest in Hobbs, second only to Lovington Highway and Joe Harvey.

Retailers want locations in that busy section of Hobbs, and with only a handful of small locations left, big box stores are pretty much boxed out.

That isn’t stopping some developers from luring the smaller retailers to the few areas left to develop in that region of Hobbs.

“We don’t just sit back and linger and hope they come,” said Kassis. “We are the ones who bring them here. There are people interested, but you have to sell it for this town.”

Kassis has had a lot of success building smaller shopping centers along major thoroughfares in Hobbs and filling them with smaller retailers.

He said he’s currently in negotiations for several name-brand retail and dining businesses to locate in his new shopping centers along Navajo, east of Joe Harvey and on North Grimes near Del Norte Park.

“We have quite a few things coming up,” he said. “We are going to start a third phase retail across from Del Norte. There are two there and we are building a third. We are also building another retail adjacent to Ashley Furniture and U-Haul.”

Kassis said the key to selling these smaller locations is to educate retailers on Hobbs.

“People don’t understand,” he said. “They look at the Census and still think its 38,000 population and it is a Podunk town. They don’t understand it’s a growing community and the franchises become some of the highest selling they have.”

As an example he points to the Firehouse Subs franchise he landed in his shopping mall on Grimes across from Home Depot.

“Our Firehouse Subs is one of the top producing in the 1,500 locations nationwide,” he said. “We were No. 1, 2 and 3 (in sales) for the first year and now we are still in the top 20 after everything has leveled out. It is the same with the car washes. That is why so many wanted to buy us out.”

Gray is currently filling in an empty lot on Grimes adjacent to the small strip center with the UPS store across from Permian Toyota.

He said the five-store-front-building will round out that shopping center and he’s working on contracts for tenants now.

In-fill locations still have a future for those willing to take a risk and aren’t as picky as franchises.

Liu is in the process of remodeling the former Dairy Queen at 220 W. Bender into a Japanese noodle house. It’s the kind of diversified food option that could succeed for entrepreneurs in those in-fill locations that franchises won’t take a chance on.

The noodle house should be up and running sometime this summer, Liu said.


Is Millen next?

One area talked about for the next wave of retail development is Millen Drive. It’s far north of the current hub of retail, but close to the Casino, Event Center, hospital and New Mexico Junior College and could be where activity moves as Joe Harvey fills up.

Currently, only the shell of a Quizno’s that was built along Millen, but shuttered after personal tragedy, hints at the area’s future possibilities.

“That Quizno’s was supposed to be the catalyst for Millen,” Shaw said.

“When you think Millen – it connects Grimes to Lovington Highway and where it connects – it seems like it is almost destined to be that next Joe Harvey in our lifetime,” said Jennifer Grassham, CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County. “I am pretty optimistic.”

Grassham said interest in Hobbs does appear to be resurging following a long lull in the wake of COVID.

Shaw, and others in the development game agree Millen is likely the next hot spot; it just needs that “catalyst” to launch the area.

“I see Millen happening before anything further east on Navajo,” Shaw said. “Something will happen. It is just takes a catalyst.”

Grey said if it is going to be Millen the city has to put in the infrastructure to make it possible.

The City of Hobbs is already preparing for that, said Meghan Mooney, spokeswoman for Hobbs city government.

“Within the last five years, the city has received numerous development inquiries and continues to receive these, some including the Millen corridor,” Mooney wrote. “The city is working with the property owner (Del Norte) for a large scale annexation of the frontage along the south side of Millen.

“The city’s urban growth map indicates this area as a potential prime growth area, although market establishes market, which isn’t controlled by the city.”

All it could really take is an updated Census.

“When we hit 50,000 (population), we are suddenly on the map for a lot of different stores,” Gray said.


Marshall’s, PetSmart and more back on the table

Work began again earlier this week on the former Kmart building and the once announced tenants for the location are now back on the table.

Lasco Construction Owner John Ragsdale said the $2.5 million rebuild of the building’s shell is underway and the first tenants could be in and operating by the end of the year.

“Tenant contracts will be negotiated within the next month or two,” Ragsdale said. “Five months is what we have to do the shell, but I don’t think it will take that long. It will go a little faster.”

Ragsdale confirmed the tenants originally announced for the building in 2020 when Kmart vacated the premises are still on the table — Marshall’s, Famous Footwear, PetSmart and Ross Dress for Less and Boot Barn.

The building has a sixth retail location spot planned that has yet to land a tenant.

Ragsdale said the existing roof of the building was not in terrible shape and was going to be replaced in sections as crews worked inside the structure, but said now the entire roof will need to be replaced before workers start on the interior.

The project has been a long time coming, and although Ragsdale could not give specifics on why it has taken so long for the building’s owners, Nevada-based Rhino Investment Group, to get moving, he said it’s good for the community it is finally happening.

“It was a hazard,” he said. “That building, the longer it sat, the more problems it was going to cause.”

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