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West Towne Marketplace gets Wal-Mart Supercenter

West Towne Marketplace, a 500,000-square-foot shopping center under construction in West El Paso, has added a Wal-Mart Supercenter as its third and last major anchor store, the center's developer announced.

The 191,000-square-foot store will be Wal-Mart's 24th store in the El Paso area, including four Sam's Clubs and 10 Neighborhood Markets. It will be the 10th Supercenter in the El Paso area, but only the second on the West Side.

Wal-Mart decided to open a Supercenter in West Towne, located at Interstate 10 and Paseo del Norte (Artcraft Road), because it's a good location in a growing area, said San Antonio-based Anne Hatfield, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman for Texas.

Wal-Mart bought the land and will construct the store. Construction is expected to begin late this year and probably will take nine to 12 months to complete, she said.

Cabela's, an outdoor sporting goods chain, will be another anchor for the center. The chain announced in October that it would put a 50,000-square-foot store in West Towne, a smaller format store for the Nebraska company known for its mammoth, tourist-destination locations. That store is expected to open this fall.

The third major anchor will be a movie theater, said Adam Frank, president of River Oaks Properties, the West Towne developer. "We are in negotiations with a cinema," which will be a company not currently operating movie theaters in El Paso, he said.

River Oaks is a large El Paso shopping center development company owned by Gerald Rubin, founder of Helen of Troy, the El Paso consumer products company. He's now River Oaks chief executive officer.

The $100 million West Towne center is expected to be completed by October, Frank said.

"We were in negotiations with Wal-Mart for a long time," Frank said. "Wal-Mart is one of the highest-volume retailers in the country, and definitely in El Paso. Wal-Mart is a huge draw for all these (center) tenants."

He announced Wal-Mart's plan to locate in West Towne at an International Council of Shopping Centers retail conference Wednesday in El Paso. The fact Wal-Mart is part of the shopping center doesn't change plans to make the center's architecture and layout high quality, he said.

Frank promised late last year, when plans for the center were announced, that it would be in the mold of The Fountains at Farah center on the East Side. The so-called power center is being designed by the nationally known Phoenix architectural firm Butler Design Group.

It will have a contemporary Southwest design using a mix of colors and various materials, including stone and wood, and feature pedestrian walkways with seating areas, plazas and lots of landscaping, Rick Butler, president and founder of Butler Design, told the El Paso Times last year. Buildings will be linked by walkways to give it a strong pedestrian connectivity, he said.

The design of the center played no role in Wal-Mart's decision to locate a store in the center, Hatfield said. Location and customer need were the driving forces, she said. Wal-Mart's El Paso stores are mostly in stand-alone buildings or in small shopping centers. But it's not unusual for a Wal-Mart to be part of a large development, Hatfield said.

Almost 90 percent of the shopping center is leased, Frank said. It shows demand for retail space remains strong, he added.

The center will have three large, sit-down restaurants and several fast-food restaurants, Frank said. River Oaks is trying to recruit some restaurant brands new to El Paso, he said.

Other tenants announced so far have other El Paso locations: T.J. Maxx/HomeGoods; Ross Dress for Less; Rack Room Shoes; PetSmart; Great Clips; and AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile wireless stores. Food outlets so far are: Chipotle Mexican Grill; Chick-fil-A; McDonald's; Menchie's Frozen Yogurt; Starbucks; Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers; and possibly a MidiCi The Neopolitan Pizza Co. restaurant.

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Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421;; @vickolenc on Twitter.

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