Burlington Coat Factory moving forward in Rogers, Fort Smith

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 574 views 

Residents in Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith area will soon have a new place to shop for winter coats and apparel when a Burlington Coat Factory opens this fall and spring 2016, respectively, in the two areas.

The new 60,000 square-foot store in the Pleasant Grove center in Rogers, which will add between 50 and 100 new jobs to the local retail sector, is under construction as part of a 38-acre development on South Pleasant Crossing Boulevard, west of Ashley Furniture.

The two stores are the anchors of the center which will feature 290,000 square feet when completed, said Matt Sitton of The Sitton Group. Sitton is a relatively new private developer after a 10-year career with Wal-Mart in the area of new store development, primarily in the Northeast U.S. The Sitton Group opened in 2012, he said.

Two restaurants, Taco Bueno and Backyard Burgers, are part of the Rogers development but have purchased their properties, Sitton said. A Whataburger under construction north of Backyard Burgers is separate from the Burlington complex, he added.

Sitton also is working with “about a half dozen” other retailers to negotiate contracts for the remaining space in the center, including a “junior anchor” for 20,000 to 30,000 square feet. He declined to identify any of the potential lessees except to say the junior anchor would be a nationally known retailer. The smaller stores will be between 4,000 to 10,000 square feet, he said. 

Phase I represents a $20 million construction project. C.R. Crawford is the contractor. The first phase is expected to be completed in the next 12 to 18 months and the second phase could be finished in another 18 months after it begins, probably later this year, Sitton said.

The Rogers store would be the third store in Arkansas. Other stores are in Little Rock and North Little Rock. A fourth store is also planned at the Azalea Square Shopping Center in Fort Smith. That store is scheduled to open next spring in 2016. 

The two stores are part of 17 new stores announced since January by the Burlington Company. The new stores are scattered across the country, according to the company website.

Rogers Mayor Greg Hines said Burlington Coat Factory is a retailer folks who’ve relocated to Rogers in recent years from around the country often ask him about. Hines said the time is ripe for development in southwestern Rogers, which was one of the areas where infrastructure has been in place for more than a decade but has lagged other retail centers like Pinnacle Hills and Scottsdale Center. 

“Hanks Furniture made the commitment to this area when the market was not very good. Since then, development had trickled in, but that has changed. In recent months Gusanos took over the Mad Pizza space, Cavender’s opened its new store and the Whisenvest development is nearly fully leased,” Hines said.

Steve Cox, director of economic development for the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce, said the longtime commercial development plan for this area is finally coming to fruition long after residential housing subdivisions were completed. 

It’s normal for retail to follow rooftops but in southwest Rogers it’s been a decade in the making. Hines said after the recession hit the building in this area just stopped, so it’s great to see the dirt turning again and steel going up. 

Cox and Hines said the region’s growing population is one of the factors that keep national retailers interested. They said the growth rate is sustainable as sales taxes, building permits and job growth are all within a few percentage points of one other. 

“Going over the 500,000 population mark also helped to open up the region to more retailers. Rogers benefits from that because it has become a large retail center for Northwest Arkansas. I remember when I was a kid we had to go to Fayetteville to buy a pair of jeans,” Hines said.