New Austin Retail Store Signals Continued Growth

Posted at: 12/13/2013 5:42 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- A major retailer has cleared its final hurdle as it prepares to bring new business and new jobs to the city of Austin.

Runnings, a retailer similar to Fleet Farm, bought the old K-Mart building in northwest Austin back in 2012, but was having trouble moving forward because of problems with an existing lease agreement between Sears Holdings Corporation and the building's previous owner.

On Friday, city officials confirmed Runnings has reached an agreement with Sears and is now moving ahead with renovations on the store that officials say will bring around 50 new jobs to the city.

Located just off 18th Avenue, Runnings represents the latest economic success in an area that city officials have been targeting for economic growth.

“We've had an increase in our retail sales tax [revenue] I think just about every month going back to the year 2009,” said Craig Hoium, the city’s director of community development. “We think the retail business coming to Austin is going to be a great thing for the northwest retail area."

Earlier this year, both Jimmy Johns and the Sassy Strawberry frozen yogurt shop opened in a new building on the other end of 18th Avenue, and the Sassy Strawberry’s owner said the retail climate in the area is a big draw.

“We like that we're in a busy part of town with Walmart right across the road and Hy-Vee,” said Ashley Kuper, who owns and manages the store. “This is where people go to get all their groceries."

With Hy-Vee set to add a multi-million dollar expansion and more retail spaces being built along 18th Avenue, experts said the future is bright for the area.

“If you look to the next 10 years or so, I think you're going to see some dramatic positive changes in Austin,” Hoium said.