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Dickinson to add 1.4M square feet of retail space in coming years

Dickinson's Menards store, shown here Friday afternoon, is the first major retailer to break ground in one of the city's three west side retail developments. If all plans are completed as submitted to the city, Dickinson will see an additional 1.4 million square feet of commercial space.

The first building of Dickinson's major new retailers is beginning to look like the Menards store it's going to be.

There are three major commercial developments planned for Dickinson's west side, and while there are complete and near-complete hotels and apartments on the site, Menards is the first retailer to break ground at Roers' West Ridge.

"We have several national retailers and restaurants that have shown an interest in the city that, over the next year, I anticipate them announcing that they will be coming to Dickinson," said Ed Courton, Dickinson's community development director. Big box stores can take nine months to a year to complete.

Directly north of West Ridge is Pinecrest, Meyer Real Estate Group's commercial development, and on the south side of Interstate 94, along 30th Avenue West is the 5 Diamond commercial development.

As proposed, these three developments will add up to 1.4 million square feet of retail to Dickinson, Courton said.

"That's a lot of commercial properties if they all develop to the extent to which they originally came in," Courton said.

5 Diamond's retail center was preliminarily named Dickinson Town Center, but Tracy Tooz, Dickinson planning and zoning commissioner, asked developer Ron Raddon to consider changing it to avoid confusion with downtown revitalization, which is approximately in Dickinson's center.

"The west side will be our newer, larger big-box retailer areas," Courton said. There will still be a retail focus in downtown and the retail corridor on the city's north side near the Prairie Hills Mall will remain.

Construction at West Ridge, the first of the three major commercial areas to break ground, has slowed because of infrastructure issues at the site, Courton said. Between a change in staff in the engineering department at an onslaught of permits, the process to begin building has taken longer than it did a year ago.

Cash Wise, a budget grocery store, has not broken ground, but holds a liquor license and has been in talks with the city, Courton said. Wells Fargo bank has announced plans to move from Prairie Hills Mall to West Ridge, and 5 Diamond is planning for a theater in its retail corridor.

Meyer has been tight-lipped about what retailers will be in Pinecrest.

"They want to keep things quiet," Courton said of retailers. "They don't want to let it out until they control the land."

The development on the city's west side will only add to the existing retail, said Gaylon Baker, executive director of Stark Development Corp.

"I think that you'll start to see both areas see more traffic actually," Baker said. "It's been proving in studies that I've read that when you have more retail in town, you strengthen the magnet so to speak, and I expect both retail areas to flourish."

Stark Development Corp. works with small and big businesses.

"I really don't think that's going to happen," Baker said when asked if national retailers coming to the area would hurt small businesses. "I think it's just going to capture what was leakage to other communities.

"I believe that we'll see everybody's plate get a little fuller."

The increased commercial interest in Dickinson can be directly attributed to the city's growth, Courton said.

"Commercial is contingent upon rooftops," Courton said. "Since we have went from a community of roughly 18,000 in the census to approximate 25,000 to 26,000, that's a significant increase. That's enough of an increase for some of these bigger retailers and for other restaurants to come in here."

Because the population has increased enough to attract major retailers, having those stores and restaurants will keep people in Dickinson and even draw more people to the city, Courton said.

"We will start to collect that sales revenue that would have went out of Dickinson to larger communities now will stay here," Courton said. "And then we'll also be able to attract, some of the outlying communities will come to Dickinson instead of going to Bismarck for those large retailers and other businesses."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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