Canyon West only half finished at five-year mark

When Milwaukee Avenue opened with seven lanes between Fourth Street and 92nd Street in spring of 2006, construction was already under way on the first store of the Canyon West shopping center.

The Target Supercenter opened that year, with the first buildings of the shopping center opening in 2007.

Now Charles Hodges, one of two original backers of the Canyon Hub Holdings, said development in Canyon West is only about half completed.

“We told everyone when we started it would take 10 years to build it out,” Hodges said, noting that he didn’t include time for a recession.

But interest in building in Canyon West is gaining again, he said, and the company hopes to start expanding the shopping center further. So far, only 45 of 137 acres have been built, he said.

It won’t necessarily be all retail growth in the area, either.

Hodges said he hopes to add more restaurants to seven different pads in front of the current shopping area, many existing on the field between the parking lot and the Marsha Sharp Freeway.

“We have a tremendous amount of land out front of the shopping center,” Hodges said. “Frenship needs more sit-down restaurants.”

The group also owns restaurant pads along Milwaukee Avenue leading up to the entrance to Raider Ranch.

Hodges said he would also like to see some apartment complexes or other residential building in the Canyon West area. Residents in the area could help bring more Monday-Thursday traffic to the shopping center, he said, adding that it’s easy enough to fill the center on weekends.

He said he is excited to see other apartment complexes opening along Milwaukee Avenue, for the same reason.

Residential growth in an area fuels commercial growth, which then adds more fuel to the residential growth, Hodges said.

Hodges is a Texas Tech graduate, but lives in Dallas. His daughter was a student at Tech’s law school when he and she were driving around Lubbock, looking at real estate, he said.

“I happened to see the crews taking out the railroad in that area,” he said, noting that the railroad had hemmed in the area where Canyon West now is situated.

The next day, he was looking to acquire the land nearby. If you looked at the growth patterns at the time, he said, that was right in the center of where the growth was headed.

“If you look at Lubbock at 50,000 feet up, you can kind of see where the growth patterns are,” he said. The Marsha Sharp Freeway and Frenship Independent School District are bringing more people in, he said.

Hodges said he believes FISD will continue to fuel growth in West Lubbock for at least 20 and maybe even 30 years.

Hodges said the real key to growth in West Lubbock was the widening and opening of Milwaukee Avenue. He credits former Lubbock Mayor Tom Martin for coming to all of the stakeholders in the area and asking them to donate land for the project.

“It was very forward-looking for the community,” Hodges said.

Martin, in turn, credits the landowners in the area. He said the city used funds from a Gateway Streets Fund, which is funded from utility franchises, to expand and widen Milwaukee Avenue. If the city had waited for the state to come up with funding, he said the project might just now be starting.

Lubbock’s growth rate has doubled from 1 percent annually to 2 percent annually, something Martin attributes to the Milwaukee Avenue road construction and commercial and residential development there.

“Starting in 2006, the second half of this last decade, Lubbock started growing 2 percent a year,” he said. “When you build streets in an area that’s ripe for development, it encourages property owners to go ahead and make investments.”

Canyon Hub Holdings has some ideas for the land use of the remaining 92 acres of land in Canyon West, but Hodges said the company is flexible regarding growth. For instance, he said the land where the new Sam’s Club sits was planned for apartments, but when the retailer expressed interest in locating there, it was accommodated.

“Generally, Sam’s gets what Sam’s wants,” Hodges said, noting the business wanted to be front and center in the shopping center.

Although construction did slow down during the recession, Hodges said interest in building in Canyon West has picked up. Things were never as bad in Lubbock as in some areas, he said, because Lubbock has a pretty steady economy.

“Honestly, we’ve been flooded lately with requests from more tenants wanting to come to Canyon West,” he said.

The developers are looking for businesses the Lubbock area doesn’t already have to fill Canyon West, Hodges said.

“I think that’s important. And it’s what people are interested in, something different and new,” he said.

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