Some regional grocers have shown interest in moving into the first floor retail space inside the Felix Street Square Market and parking garage being built by Mosaic Life Care.
For several months, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services has been communicating with prospective tenants about the specifics of how they would occupy the new structure in Downtown St. Joseph.
Ray Sisson, the director of commercial sales with Berkshire Hathaway, said the primary objective is to fill all 33,000 square feet of the usable sales floor space with a single grocery store, which will have its main entrance on the western side of the building, which faces the park.
“I don’t see a Safeway or a Kroger coming back into the market to locate Downtown,” Sisson said. “But there are several regional groceries. As a matter of fact, I was talking with one that has 19 stores, and employs 2,000 people in these 19 stores, that are looking at St. Joseph as a possible market.”
If additional tenants are needed to fill the other storefronts, Sisson said the eastern side of the building could be used for a restaurant or office space, and the sidewalk, staircase and accessibility ramp leading to that entryway is practically complete.
Berkshire Hathaway also has supplied potential grocery tenants with other information including the demographics of the Downtown area. Sisson said about 10,000 people live within a one-mile radius of the construction site.
“Our rents are basically below market for a brand new facility such as this,” he added. “The minimum we could lease it for, if it was just on a percentage rate, we are in the $4 to $5 range per square foot. On the restaurant side or on the other services, we are offering it at $12, $12.50 per square foot per year, which is what I would call market rate. You know, comparable to what we would be getting on the Belt Highway.”
A Mosaic research team also is planning to generate additional information through a future online survey about the grocery store concept that the real estate agency can then pass along to interested tenants.
Sisson said that its questions will focus on the array of items that the public would most frequently buy at the new Downtown market.
“Would you take a bottle of wine home with you?” he said. “Or would you stop for a loaf of bread, flowers, cleaners, all the services that you see from a grocery store? The grocers are saying, ‘Well, how big of a department would that need to be?’”
“So we’re just trying to document now what that market might be,” Sisson added. “Because we think we need that now to determine, and for the store to determine, whether they need a 20,000- or a 10,000-foot grocery store, or what they could justify and support.”
The information for the survey has not been released but should be out in the near future.
Mosaic’s retail complex and the parking garage is set to open Jan. 1, and Sisson hopes to confirm a grocery store tenant in time for the first quarter of 2018.