It’s been years in the making and by some estimates, it should have been done by now.
While developers of the Winrock Town Center say the redevelopment is still years from total completion, they say their big ideas are still very much part of the plan.
The Goodman Realty Group has overseen the Winrock project for more than a decade now. In the last few years, a video rendering of the ambitious project was released showing a huge park with a lake, hotels, office space, apartments, rooftop restaurants, new retail space and more.
“Winrock is a different type of project,” said Darin Sand, vice president of development for the Goodman Realty Group.
While a lot of locals have gotten used to seeing the new retail space housing stores like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, Sand says there’s much more happening now at the site that’s not always easy to see.
“Things are going full steam ahead,” said Sand.
Sand says the plans for the redevelopment seen in the rendering video are still exactly what developers are aiming for.
The developers gave a recent update about the project to the city as part of an annual meeting of the public body overseeing the “tax increment development district” for the site. While developers acknowledge that the project is still far from complete, they aren’t giving up.
“This is a complicated project for many reasons,” said Sand. “The retail environment is a question mark right now as the public knows that a number of large retailers have gone out of business, have gone bankrupt and here at Winrock we’ve unfortunately had a couple of those tenants.”
Despite some setbacks, Sand says there’s still a lot of interest in Winrock because of what it’s trying to do, piece by piece.
“It’s an amenity that we don’t have in the city or the state,” said Sand.
If it’s fully realized, Winrock may be the only or the largest “mixed use” development in the area where people can live, work and be entertained all on the same property.
Some of that “live-work-play” work may start showing soon at the former Montgomery Ward’s building.
On one of the corners of the “Ward’s” building near the movie theater, local restaurant “Crackin’ Crab” is set to build a space with outdoor seating.
The second floor of the Ward’s building will get more windows and turn into office space. The ground floor is expected to become retail space soon.
“We’ve had quite a bit of interest on the office use,” said Sand.
Meanwhile, the old mall is being demolished to make way for a center road, lake and park. The Toys ‘R Us is also expected to be replaced by a gym by 2019.
On the retail side, Sketchers and Men’s Warehouse have signed deals to open stores at Winrock.
A new restaurant to New Mexico, “Burger 21” is slated to open soon at “The Corner” development at Uptown Loop Road and Indian School this summer. A specialty olive oil and vinegar business, “Old Town Olive” is also slated to open at “The Corner” soon.
As for a timeline, developers say Winrock will still be years in the making.
“Currently we see about a five-year timeline to complete the project,” said Sand.
Despite the wait, some say they’re already feeling the changes that have occurred.
“It’s been really fun to see everybody kind of experience this area and see how lively it’s becoming,” said Nate Barber, a restaurant manager for Sauce Pizza and Wine.
Winrock also recently told city officials that it’s working on deals to get a few other family entertainment venues in the old Montgomery Ward’s building, but it hasn’t finalized leases yet.
Elsewhere on the site, Winrock developers say they’re also planning for two hotels, a 350 unit apartment complex and two more parking garages to be built in the future. One of the hotel projects has already signed a “letter of intent” to build on the site.