Washington state developer Bob McDonald has landed a grocery store to help anchor the Billings mall he bought, remodeled and renamed West Park Promenade.
Lucky’s Farmers Market, an independent chain established in Boulder, Colo., will become the dominant player along the mall’s façade facing Grand Avenue. And the former CVS Pharmacy space on the northwest corner of the mall will be torn down beginning April 1 to make room for three-story apartments.
A deep recession hit while McDonald was buying the mall, but economic times have improved and Lucky’s came through.
“It will be very competitive. They are a full-service grocery store, good pricing and a nice-looking store,” he said. “They should do well.”
Over the past decade, Lucky’s chief executive Pat Gilliland of Boulder, Colo., helped build a chain of 40 Sunflower Farmers Markets and sold them last year to Sprouts Farmers Markets. Now he and his partners are starting the Lucky's chain in states where they are free from non-compete contracts.
Billings has fewer grocery stores per capita than other Montana cities, so it is underserved, Gilliland said.
“We think it is a great market,” he said. “What we’re offering is a natural product for less than you’re going to pay at Albertsons.”
Lucky’s will open its first two stores soon in Ohio and Missouri and Billings should be the third market. Gilliland is traveling to Bozeman next week where he plans to open a grocery store. He’s also scouting locations in Missoula, Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota.
In Billings, Lucky’s will take up most of the Grand Avenue space between Hastings Music Books & Videos and a women’s apparel store called Apricot Lane. The 26,000-square-foot store that will employ about 80 people will open around February 2014.
To make room for the grocery, the existing Red Robin restaurant just east of Hastings will flip over to the Sears side east of the promenade roundabout.
The Washington state developer also landed two other tenants.
Umi Japanese Restaurant, which cooks food on a grill in front of customers, will open between Lucky’s and Apricot Lane. And Pure Barre, a national exercise chain using ballet barre movements, will open just north of the future Red Robin site.
McDonald sold nearly 4 acres on the northwest corner of the mall property to Tom Sroufe of Seattle, whose company, Brookwater Advisors, will build 96 apartments.
After buying the mall, McDonald invested about $13 million to remodel the property, including ripping out the middle section so he could build an open-air street, or promenade.