Year in Review: Denton enjoyed continued development

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Denton welcomed new businesses, renovations and continued development in 2012. But it also had to say goodbye to some favorites.

Denton welcomed new businesses, renovations and continued development in 2012. But it also had to say goodbye to some favorites.

 

Rayzor Ranch keeps building

Throughout the year the Rayzor Ranch development, located on U.S. Highway 380, added a slew of smaller stores and businesses at Rayzor Ranch Marketplace, which is also home to Sam’s Club and Walmart. And it ended the year on a high note with the announcement that Kohl’s would be coming to the Marketplace while Dillard’s would be coming to the Town Center, a project that’s been on hold since 2007.

There is currently a Dillard’s at Golden Triangle Mall, and officials with both entities weren’t immediately sure whether the retailer would operate two stores in Denton.

Along with Kohl’s, Rayzor Ranch officials announced that Famous Footwear, Petco and Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft would also open in the Marketplace in 2013.

Some of 2012’s additions to the Marketplace include Cowboy Chicken, which features wood-fired rotisserie chicken, Denton Regional Medical Center’s new Urgent Care Center, Top That! Pizza, Mooyah — Denton’s second location for the hamburger restaurant — and Villa Grande, a Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurant.

 

Mall keeps renovating

Across town, Golden Triangle Mall, located on Loop 288, made strides in its renovation project, which will continue into the new year. Renovations on the 765,000-square-foot shopping center began in April. It updated its interior with a new center court and many of the storefronts received facelifts. In 2013, the renovations will focus on the exterior as well as the expansion of the mall’s existing food court.

The mall was purchased in November 2011 by GTM Development Ltd., a limited partnership between Cencor Realty Services, MGHerring Group and Arizona-based En Pertignus Holding Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

 

Sterling Fry Street opens

Over near the University of North Texas, the Sterling Fry Street development changed the landscape around Cool Beans. The mixed-use development opened its 194-unit, 614-bed apartment complex for college students.

It also added several restaurants to its 10,500-square-foot retail space, including Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Chipotle Mexican Grill, MacDaddy’s Macaroni and Cheese Bar and Yogurtland. Another restaurant, Grip Mediterranean Grill, should open later next year.

 

Moving out and moving in

Denton had to say goodbye to several businesses throughout the year.

In January, officials with Nucor Corp., the country’s largest steel manufacturer and the parent company of Nuconsteel, announced plans to leave the business of fabricating light-gauge steel framing and close its division located at 525 S. Locust St.

Nucor entered the residential and commercial light-gauge steel framing business in November 2001 with the acquisition of Itec Steel Inc., which became Nuconsteel shortly thereafter.

In addition to its Denton location, the company terminated operations in Dallas, Ga. Nucor has facilities in the U.S. and Canada.

Kirkland’s Inc. also announced in January it would close its Denton location. But in its place, the Denton Crossing shopping center off Loop 288 gained Rue21, a national clothing store for young adults.

Fremaux’s Metropolitan Catering closed its doors in June after more than a decade of catering for Denton residents.

Chuck Fremaux, owner of the 13-year-old catering business, cited a variety of reasons for the closure, including other wedding venues and event facilities opening in Denton and making it challenging for his business.

In July, Hastings Books Music and Video went out of business because profits were down. The Denton location employed 35 full-time and part-time employees.

As the year came to a close, Amy and Joey Hawkins, who own both Jupiter House locations, announced they’d be shuttering the Jupiter House Europa location at 503 W. University Drive. The couple plan to replace it with a bagel shop — Royal’s Bagel and Cinnamon Roll — next year.

Another coffee shop across town also announced it was closing. After three-and-a-half years in business, the owners of Cafe Du Luxe announced that they were closing their restaurant at the Unicorn Lake development.

Another big surprise at the end of the year was the announcement that Love Shack, a burger joint at 115 E. Hickory St. that had only been in business for 18 months, would be closing.

A sign outside the restaurant stated that owner Tim Love would be “re-designing and renovating the space, which will open with a new concept in early 2013.”

But Denton also welcomed some new businesses in 2012, including Hoochie’s Oyster Bar, which opened on Bell Avenue in the spring, offering a relaxing atmosphere where people can hang out, listen to music and enjoy seafood.

Owner John Blackwood started revamping the old yellow house in late 2011 with his business partner, Sam Solomon.

Peerless Manufacturing Co. broke ground on a more than 30-acre lot near Denton Airport in the fall. Slated to open in the summer of 2013, the approximately 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility — with room for expansion — more than triples the size of the company’s current 22,000-square-foot facility in the 1100 block of Duncan Street. The new facility’s price tag totals about $9 million, according to company officials. When the facility is fully operational, the company looks to employ about 160 people.

 

Hoteliers express concern

Early in the year, hoteliers expressed concerns about the city’s proposal for a convention center with an attached full-service hotel with about 300 rooms, calling the hotel market “fragile.”

The proposal for a center at the former site of the Radisson Hotel, dormant since 2009, revived at the beginning of the year with an unsolicited proposal from Missouri-based O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC. A preliminary agreement between Denton, O’Reilly and UNT, which owns the land, shows city leaders paying for the $25 million convention center with city tax revenue from the project and lease payments from O’Reilly.

After hearing about the revived project, Denton hotel owners wrote a letter to the city’s director of economic development saying because of the state of the lodging environment, the new hotel would pull revenue away from existing ones. About 1,000 of the 2,100 hotel rooms in Denton are empty every night, driving down earnings so low that some owners are having trouble making their mortgages.

The hoteliers asked the city to update its 2009 hotel market study, but city officials said they already invested in a study.

Hoteliers have been clear that it’s not the proposed convention center that concerned them but the hotel attached to it. 

 

Unemployment declines

The unemployment rate declined during the first few months of the year, then increased during the summer months before beginning to decline again in the fall.

In July, Erica Sullivan, economic development analyst for the city of Denton, said the increase in unemployment in the summer occurs every year but that the city’s rate remains lower than the county, state or national averages.

Unemployment was on the decline again in August and continued to decline into September but held flat in October.

When the unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in November, city officials were pleased.

“It is the first time it is below the 5 percent mark, pre-financial crisis levels,” Sullivan said in December. “… That is promising.”

Natalie Moffitt, workforce development manager with Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas, said the overall improvement in the economy is facilitating employment locally.

While unemployment rates saw improvement most of the year, Peterbilt Motors Co. had two rounds of layoffs in July and October. The truck manufacturing company with a plant at 3200 Airport Road laid off 250 employees in July. It wouldn’t disclose the number of employees laid off in October.

Unless Peterbilt submits a notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the exact number of employees laid off doesn’t have to be disclosed to the city or the state.

 

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com.


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