BROOKINGS – Tacos, pizza, golf. With Taco Bell up and running, two new businesses will soon be opening their doors in Wilbert Square, a mixed-use development on a 24-acre site on 25th Avenue just north of Lowe’s.
Little Caesars pizza is to be opened in October, and a yet-to-be-named virtual golf course will be under the same roof in a 4,000-square-foot building and should be open for business by the end of November.
“It’s going to be like virtual golf, like they have in Sioux Falls (home of Golf Addiction, which offers indoor virtual golf and a bar and grill),” said real estate agent Susanne Bielfeldt, who is promoting the project. She’s the wife of Dennis Bielfeldt, CEO of Den-Wil Development & Construction and Wilbert Square developer.
The next step for the Square will be the road, with entrance-exits off 25th Avenue. “It’s easier to sell land with a road,” Susanne explained. “Because if you have a sign up that says 30 acres for sale or 25 acres, people cannot imagine.
“So by putting the road in and kind of staking out all these lots individually, when you drive by you can say, ‘Hey, I like No. 3. How big is it; how much is it going to cost?’ Or, ‘Can we make an arrangement, Den-Wil will build it and we will lease it?’”
Susanne next moved on to what she described as “mixed use” – commercial use space and residential condos – showing artist’s renderings of larger buildings joined together in a row that could house “commercial on the bottom and then living on the top, which is going to be really pretty.”
Next she pointed out that in the area north of Taco Bell, “We’re going to look into residential/condominiums, because there is a definite need in Brookings for condominiums.”
By way of outdoor features, the Bielfeldts are looking to decorative ponds and fountains, lighting and light shows that Susanne said would look “a little bit like Las Vegas.”
Amazon and the ‘retail ice age’
As to drawing a “big box” or “anchor” store to the Square, Dennis said, “Things have changed over the years. Amazon has really changed the landscape of retail. It’s harder and harder to find big boxes to come in.
“There are malls in big cities where the big boxes have moved out. It’s called the ‘retail ice age.’ You’re seeing lots of malls take a hit.”
He doesn’t see the big box being a must in the success of developments like Wilbert Square. The popularity of online shopping has proven detrimental to the demand for big-box shopping.
“I don’t think it’s as vital as it once was,” he explained. “Here’s what happens: People go to the big box, walk through and then the go home and buy it online. Big boxes are a dying breed.”
The Bielfeldt sees the development of Wilbert Square having ties to support the nearby Innovative Village that Den-Wil also built and Research Park at South Dakota State University. At this point the timeline for building out the Square is open-ended.
“We hope that someday there will be many, many high-tech people working in that area of the Research Park,” he said. “And this would be a great place for them to come.”
Restaurant, convention center
On a larger scale, across the street from the Square is a Comfort Suites hotel with 100 rooms available. Attached to the hotel will be a 22,356-square-foot convention center capable of seating 900 people (and able to be divided into two areas with each seating 450 people). The finishing touch to the total-picture calls for a 3,000-square-foot steak-and-seafood restaurant located within the convention center and next to the hotel.
Construction on the center is underway. Before the snow flies, the center’s walls and roof should be in place and construction can continue inside.
“We believe we’ll be able to host events in the convention center by May 2018,” Dennis said. “The idea here in the convention center is to provide really a wonderful quality experience.”
Addressing again the ties to SDSU, he explained, “We believed that the next hotel to be built in Brookings needed to be a hotel that was close to South Dakota State University. … We believed that a convention center next to that hotel meets all kind of needs.
“We employ some of their graduates already. We want to establish a wonderful connection with the university, so that students can have internships right next to campus. We’re all about South Dakota State University.”
Finally, he noted that the hotel and convention center will bring “well more than 50 full-time jobs to Brookings.”
Contact John Kubal at [email protected].
Images courtesy of designArc