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Idaho Falls, Ammon see upswing in retail development

It’s the million dollar question: Will Costco come to Idaho Falls or Ammon? Or not at all? There’s still no answer Monday night, but there is news that a handful of other retailers will be setting up shop in the area.

A couple of local business blogs were oozing optimism with updates, from David’s Bridal coming to Hitt Road to state Rep. Janice McGeachin’s Irish pub scheduled to open Aug. 24 in downtown.

Idaho Falls business blogger Paul Menser always has his ears open.

“What’s that being built on Sunnyside? What’s going up here? When are we going to get Costco?” said Menser.

The former newspaper reporter runs Daily updates mean development is in full swing.

“I have a few good sources and the word I’m getting is that national chains are real interested in this area,” said Menser. “If you’re trying to start something local with your own money, it can be a bit hard.”

Menser said the geography of Idaho Falls pulls shoppers from Jackson Hole to Dillon, Mont., and Salmon; even Pocatello.

Grow Idaho Falls CEO Linda Martin said most retail growth is happening within a quarter mile of the Grand Teton Mall.

“There is a confluence of a lot of the big stores already along that Hitt, 17th, Sunnyside area and that a lot of people go there already,” said Martin. “If they can’t find what you want in one store, it’s close for them to go to the next one.”

Martin said the area has welcomed Captain’s Cove restaurant and the expansion of fabric stores. Soon enough, Hitt Road will also be home to David’s Bridal, Motherhood Maternity and Complete Nutrition.

Over at Snake River Landing, Menser said construction of a new Bill’s Bike Shop will be a big anchor tenant.

“That is going to make other people say, ‘Wow, if they’re there maybe I should be, too,'” said Menser.

A look at Bonneville County commercial building permits paints a positive picture: In 2011, 13 permits were granted for new buildings valued at $5.3 million. Just seven months into 2012, a dozen permits have already been handed out for new buildings valued at $9.4 million.

Both Menser and Martin said with the buzz about Costco possibly coming to the area, other retailers seem to be holding off on their development until they find out specifics.

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