(Seguin) – It doesn’t look like the COVID-19 pandemic has shut the door on Seguin when it comes to future box stores, restaurants and retail development. During a week when the city of Seguin reported a continued decrease in unemployment numbers and a boom in housing, more retail also looks to be on the horizon. Josh Schneuker, the executive director for the Seguin Economic Development Corporation, says one of the most visible sites preparing for new business is off of State Highway 46 at what will likely be called the West Seguin Martketplace.
“That property is about 24 acres. It kind of does a little L shaped wrap around Caterpillar there at the southwest corner of 46 and C.H. Matthies. What we’ve got under construction there is a Divita. That’s going to be a dialysis clinic. There’s also going to be a Burger King and a Chicken Express that are going to be built there — that were sold. The developer that’s working on this project. He’s out from San Antonio and we’ve been working very closely with him making sure that we are connecting that developer with a lot of the prospects that we’ve been actively working to recruit to Seguin over the past several years,” said Schneuker.
Now although the pandemic hasn’t caused recent projects to come off the table, it has unfortunately, put a hold on their actual next steps toward building. Schneuker says this is especially true for at least one fast food chain favorite in which talks are now no longer “if” but “when.’
“One thing related to COVID and retail is that a lot of these retailers have put what they are referring to as a COVID hold on their development. For example, we know that Chick-fil-A and Discount Tire, a couple of targeted retailers that we have been actively pursuing, they have put holds on any new development at this time. Of course, Chick-fil-A, it’s always the big one. It’s really a case of when not if those retailers are going to be coming into the community, but we anticipate their activity will begin to ramp up either towards the end of the year or the start of 2021 and just from talking to those companies, we expect that there’s going to be a lot of demand for new retail so we anticipate that those companies will end up making up for a lot of lost ground in 2020 and being very aggressive with their developments in 2021 which I think is going to go well for Seguin because there’s again, a lot of growing interest with those targeted retailers in our market –” said Schneuker.
Now while Seguin braces for new retail, it also recently had to adhere to some major changes regarding property along the frontage road at State Highway 46 and Interstate 10. That’s because Schneuker says the plan for a second Walmart in Seguin is no longer in the works.
“In April, we received word that Walmart is now looking to sell that property. We still haven’t received any official word on it that means that everything is permanently cancelled. Our assumption is that they are likely not going to move forward with that second store right now. The good news is that we do have a lot of housing in the pipeline right now. We are seeing growing interests from a lot of the targeted retailers so there might not be a second Walmart coming into the Seguin market immediately or anytime soon but many of the retailers that were interested in the area around the Walmart at the time (when) the project was active – continue to look at Seguin and we are moving in a closer direction I think with being able to hopefully, successfully recruit a lot of those retailers here,” said Schneuker.
Schneuker says the news about Walmart isn’t surprising as recruitment efforts with these brick and mortar big box companies have also had to change. He says even before the pandemic, companies were finding themselves transitioning into a new way of doing things – things now being driven through e-commerce.
“When Walmart was looking to do their second store at that time, you can go by and read the press releases by the company, they had some pretty substantial expansion plans for brick and mortar. It was around that time that they started feeling the Amazon effect and made the decision as a company to put the brakes on a lot of brick and mortar facilities and invest that money into a better plan to grow their e-commerce business,” said Schneuker.
Despite this latest news on the Walmart store, Schneuker says the city remains confident in its current talks with other big boxes and maybe even some entertainment users that can hopefully serve as catalysts for some larger scale developments.
“But where we anticipate seeing a lot of growth just in terms of new retail coming out of the ground where folks actually go in and experience it is really going to be on your fast casual dining, some of your general merchandise stores I think are some that we will start being able to see a big increase into our market hopefully in 2021. A lot of our hard work on the recruitment side, we can hopefully start to finally be able to have some really good news for the community on those recruitment efforts,” said Schneuker.
Again, while COVID-19 may have put a pause on new development, Schneuker says Seguin, no doubt, is on the radar.
“I would say the most encouraging thing is that the prospect interest in Seguin from a lot of these targeted retailers is really starting to increase. The residential growth has a lot to do with that. A lot of these decision makers for the retailers and the commercial real estate brokers that work with them are seeing the housing coming in. They are seeing how fast it is coming in and they are really encouraged by that. We are continuing to work with that developer and other property owners and sites to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward to recruit a lot of the targeted retailers that we know that the community wants to see here. I think it’s going to be definitely sooner rather than later that you see a lot of them start to come in here” said Schneuker.
The majority of other future projects for Seguin will continue to remain private as companies work toward negotiations to either build or move into vacant properties throughout the city.