TWIN FALLS — Salt Lake City-based Woodbury Corp. sees the value of the Twin Falls market.
In 2017 alone, the company announced half a dozen new businesses that planned to come to the city. A few of them have already opened — Eyemart Express, Charming Charlie and Blaze Pizza. But it won’t stop there. In 2018, Twin Falls can expect to see the arrival of The Habit Burger Grill, Sports Clips and HomeGoods.
Woodbury Corp. also owns and operates the Magic Valley Mall, and has big plans this year as the retail climate continues to change. The company learned in 2017 that Macy’s will be closing its doors at the end of March.
“We have to be quick and responsive,” said Trevor White, the property manager who also handles the mall’s marketing. “It hurts to go through change, but in the end I think it’s a lot better.”
Here are a few of the changes Magic Valley residents can expect to see in the business climate over the course of 2018.
1. Renovation at the mall
Just as downtown businesses were pleased to see Main Avenue’s rejuvenation, Woodbury Corp. also saw it as a positive sign.
“We’re all in the same town,” White said. “It’s great to see downtown Twin Falls thrive. It’s great for them and the community.”
And now, it’s the mall’s turn. The Magic Valley Mall, which opened in 1986, had been undergoing a renovation in 2017. It began with a remodel of the restrooms, addition of family restrooms and replacement of tile. In 2018, those efforts will continue with new seating, furnishings and light fixtures.
Regional Manager Brent White said malls of 30 years ago were designed to help customers move from store to store as they shopped intensely.
“The design today is to create comfort,” he said.
The remodel will include softly upholstered seating with all-new seats and tile in the food court.
Twin Falls’ mall could also have different tenants. After Macy’s announced its intended closure, Woodbury Corp. began searching for new opportunities.
“Space to us is really merchandise,” Brent White said. “Department stores have been a prominent part of what people have wanted for many years. But department stores are less interesting — especially to young people.”
So Woodbury Corp. is looking beyond department store offerings to see what other types of retail or entertainment could come in. There’s always interest in apparel, Brent White said, but there’s also a lot of those vendors in the market.
“Retail typically is one that they do love — it’s almost recreational,” Brent White said.
Macy’s decision, he said, was a reflection of its choice to focus more on large markets.
In place of Macy’s, what may come to Twin Falls — as early as 2018 — could include a department store or other retailer, or even cafes.
It all depends on what will best serve the market, Trevor White said.
“I think we’re excited for the opportunities that will come,” he said.
On top of those changes, Woodbury Corp. is also working with the city to update the document that governs the development. Around the U.S., Brent White said, shopping centers are adapting to allow for multiple uses. There’s less emphasis on apparel, and more centers are welcoming office spaces and even residential development.
“In some respects, it’s urbanization,” he said.
The new agreement, Brent White hopes, will allow the mall to adapt to current trends and the city’s comprehensive plan.
2. Restaurants on Cheney Drive West
Just south of Walmart, a new development broke ground in 2017 with plans to bring more restaurants and retail to Cheney Drive West. Burger King, the first building to be completed, had been scheduled to open Dec. 30.
Winter weather has delayed construction on two other buildings that will soon house a Kneaders Bakery and Beans & Brews Coffeehouse.
“Both those will open toward the end of March,” said Gary Moore, vice president of HB Boys.
A total of five buildings are planned to go into the development.
3. Chobani innovation center
In November, Chobani broke ground on a 70,000 square-foot innovation and community center just outside its Twin Falls plant. The building sends a message of transparency, with 30,000 square feet of glass and a lobby for visitors to learn about the company. You can even see a 3-D aerial video of the future center on YouTube.
The center was scheduled to open in summer 2018 as a place for Chobani to host its global research and development center. But CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya plans to also allow other food startups to begin research and development right inside.
4. Historic Elks Lodge upgrade
Summit Creek Capital, a Ketchum-based developer, has begun a $3.5 million project to remodel the Historic Elks Lodge at Shoshone Street North. The work is expected be complete in the spring or early summer.
The partners of Elevation 486 are using the building for their latest venture. A pub-style restaurant and brewery will take up portions of the first floor and basement, said Tyler Davis-Jeffers, managing director for Summit Creek Capital. Brewing equipment will be visible at both levels.
Cycle Therapy is no longer planning to move into the building, so a portion of the first floor is planned for another retail-type tenant. There’s additional space in the basement, and professional offices on the second floor.
The remodel will help bring the historic building back to what it originally looked like, with the original ceiling heights, Davis-Jeffers said.
5. Economic development in Jerome
Twin Falls isn’t the only Magic Valley city that’s expected to see big changes in 2018. The city of Jerome will likely some large economic development projects.
“I feel like 2018 is going to be a real banner year for us,” City Administrator Mike Williams said.
He’s expecting several industrial investments in Jerome in 2018. Commercial Creamery, for example, is planning a multimillion-dollar expansion across the street from its facility in downtown Jerome. The work will require the city to vacate a right-of-way on a road that it owned half of, and a sewer line will need to be moved.
“It’s exciting to see that type of investment in our downtown,” Williams said.
He also anticipates the completion of a truck stop just outside of town that will be “giving more people an excuse to jump off the interstate” and come downtown. Water and sewer expansions will also open up potential for three future developments.
Mr. Gas President Nick Lynch said the convenience store with 16 gas and diesel pumps is on schedule to open in mid-April. A restaurant, which has not been finalized, will likely open the following month.