Hanging in there: Frenship waiting on next building boom
Area businessmen won’t say the Frenship area — and Lubbock as a whole — are coming out of the national recession.
That’s because they don’t believe it affected Lubbock County the way it did other areas.
“If I would turn my TV off and not watch the national news, you would think Lubbock was its own utopia,” said Larry Allen, chief executive officer of Peoples Bank.
James Arnold, executive vice president at Lubbock National Bank, agreed, saying the value of homes sold the past year in Lubbock was up, although the number of homes and housing starts are down.
“I don’t know that Lubbock is really in a state of needing to recover,” said Arnold. “We’re probably flat in terms of growth. But I’d take relatively flat over negative.”
Arnold feels once existing commercial space on 82nd Street is rented, more residential will follow.
“If you look down 82nd Street from Frankford to the Brownfield Highway, there’s a lot of unabsorbed retail space that’s built out and not rented yet. Once that fills in, residential will follow. But that may take 18 to 24 months,” he said.
Allen said his bank is not in growth mode, but business is good.
“We have scaled back,” he said. “But I think the outlook for Lubbock is still good.”
When Peoples Bank first opened on 82nd Street 10 years ago, there wasn’t much in the area, said Allen.
“We were the first bank west of Frankford still in Lubbock,” said Allen. “Now you can see what’s happening all around us.”
“When we picked this location for our bank, we were lucky,” said Allen, adding while he and bank president Todd McKee were familiar with the area and knew it was growing, they had no idea it would experience the growth it’s seen in recent years. He said they did know developers had plans for the area.
As businesses move into the Frenship area, Allen said he welcomes the competition, saying Peoples Bank just wants “a piece of the pie.”
Although a sign on the northwest corner of the intersection of 82nd Street and Milwaukee Avenue indicates Lubbock National Bank will be opening a branch there, there are no “definite plans at the moment,” said Arnold.
He said the bank owns the land, but is focusing on expanding its Commerce National Banks in College Station because that’s where the bank is growing most. In 2010, he said he expects Lubbock National Bank to return its attention to the Lubbock area.
“Right now, with having that property at 82nd and Milwaukee, that would be one of the first places to look,” he said. But he said it might be more lucrative for the bank to sell that particular piece of property and look elsewhere in Lubbock.
“We get offers on that property all the time,” said Arnold. “We’ve had offers from the day we put the sign up.”
Arnold said that intersection is a growing area.
“Having a Wal-Mart across the street kind of anchors the whole area, really,” he said. “It just lets you know there will be rooftops showing up with Wal-Mart there.”
North of 82nd Street, Best Collision has opened a second repair center on West Loop 289 near 34th Street.
Part owner and manager Daniel Enabnit said he and his partners started the process of looking for a new location about three years ago — before the economy soured.
But he said the economic troubles actually benefited his business, because interest rates were much lower.
In addition, many people are more prone to repair their vehicles instead of replacing them in a bad economy, Enabnit said, so the business continues to benefit from the economy.
With all of the bad news about the economy, Enabnit said opening a new business is scary.
“It is unnerving, with everything that’s occurring,” he said.
But even Enabnit said Lubbock is a bit isolated from the economic problems the rest of the country have seen. In looking for signs of recovery, he said the recession never really hit the Lubbock economy like other areas.
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