The city’s strong economy and expected population growth continue to attract retailers from around the country, city brokers say, including existing grocery stores such as H-E-B and Albertsons and restaurants.

Starbucks is aggressively expanding, according to retail brokers, as is Texas Land & Cattle restaurant; Saltgrass Steakhouse; Whataburger, IHOP and Kentucky Fried Chicken – all of which have opened locations this year at Interstate 35 and Wells Branch in Pflugerville.

Other retailers in an Austin expansion mode include Lowe’s, which has opened at Stassney and Interstate 35; Pottery Barn at Barton Creek Mall; Bed Bath & Beyond at Texas 290 and Westgate; and Academy Sports & Outdoors at Texas 290 and MoPac.

Says Herb Weitzman, president of The Weitzman Group of Dallas, which continually monitors the pulse of the Austin retail market: “This strong retailer demand continues to fuel an active shopping center construction pace. During 1999, the market added approximately 2 million square feet of new retail space. This year, we should see between 1.5 million to 2 million square feet of new space added.”

Not only have new retailers such as Krispy Kreme and VoiceStream decided to enter the Austin market, but so has 24-Hour Fitness, a health club chain, which plans to have three locations by yearend. Avenue, an apparel retailer, is opening four Austin locations this year and Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant, is opening its first location in Stassney Heights later this year.According to Austin brokers, developers and analysts, a number of new retail projects are coming on line or under construction this year to fulfill retailer’s new space requirements including:

- a central city project at 6th and Lamar with Chico’s, City’s By George, a third-floor gym and spa and office space;

- a mixed-use redevelopment of warehouse space to office and retail space at Ben White near Lamar;

- a 116,500-sf center that will be anchored by H-E-B in northeast Austin at East Parmer Lane and Dessau Rd.;

- The Market at Anderson Arbor, an Albertsons-anchored project located on Texas 183 at Anderson Mill;

- Lake Creek Parkway, a 300,000-sf retail project peripheral to Lakeline Mall that will include five restaurant pads for as-yet-to-be-announced tenants;<p.- large-format freestanding retailers, including Wal-Mart Supercenter and Super Target, both of which are under way with plans for several locations of their superstores-with-groceries concepts. Wal-Mart Supercenter is building in Cedar Park, and Target is expanding its existing Round Rock Crossing store to a Super Target for a 2001 opening date.

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