Nearly 40 acres of vacant land south of Carlsbad could be bustling one day with a combined 20 retail shops and restaurants, said Carlsbad Department of Development’s Marketing Director Jeff Campbell.
Campbell called the proposed shopping center Project Whale.
The shopping center will be located along National Parks Highway near the intersection with Chapman Road.
Campbell said the Carlsbad Department of Development (CDOD) noticed the community’s population density shifted south along National Parks Highway during the past five years.
“There’s been at least two apartment complexes that have opened. There’s been several housing developments right off of National Parks Highway and further south between National Parks Highway and Old Cavern Highway. There’s been a lot of infill with housing developments there,” Campbell said.
Carlsbad’s population density, a measurement of population in a unit area, was 1,0008 people per square mile, according to data from the World Population Review. the population grew in Carlsbad from 26,138 people in 2010 to 32,238 in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Census.
Pegasus Group from Albuquerque are the land developers of the project which saw two national retailers commit to leases, said Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway.
He said Massachusetts-based Marshalls Department and Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby would open new locations at the center.
Hobby Lobby’s impending location in Carlsbad would be the third in southeast New Mexico, according to the company’s website. The store has one location in Roswell and one in Hobbs.
Marshalls has locations in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, according to the company’s website.
Campbell said the new stores could prevent “retail leakage” – money that leaves Carlsbad when people shop in larger communities.
“That hurts us on the bottom line in terms of gross receipts taxes (GRTs) that we cannot recoup because it’s going into other markets,” he said.
“When we see it, we see a lot of needs that are here we view those as opportunities to try and go fill in a consumer base,” Campbell said.
He said CDOD worked for nearly 10 years to bring established national retailers to the community.
“It just turns out that different circumstances didn’t allow them to be here in the past whether it was population or their own expansion plans. It looks like some of the stars are aligning better for us. The Pegasus Group is the backbone of this,” Campbell said.
Janway said Pegasus assisted the City of Carlsbad in past retail recruiting efforts including Ross Dress for Less at 811 West Pierce.
“It’s going to help us keep gross receipts dollars here in town and finally give people what they’ve been asking for in terms of restaurant and retail needs,” Campbell said.
Efforts to bring national retailers and restaurants involves commitments from all parties in Carlsbad and Eddy County, said Campbell.
“The Mayor, the City Councilor’s everybody is always looking for things to come to Carlsbad. They’ve been behind a lot of the projects from the get-go,” he said.
Campbell credited the City of Carlsbad Planning, Engineering and Regulation Department for fostering business, retail, industrial and housing growth in the City.
He said construction on the shopping center could last two years and no firm date was set for groundbreaking and building.
“This is a monumental development for Carlsbad and further proof that our city is continuing to grow,” said Janway.