The business will join several others, including Five Guys Burgers and Fries, as well as Pie Five Pizza, which opened earlier this year, and a planned Natural Grocers location, in the West University Avenue retail development and add to the city’s growing list of retailers and dining options.
City leaders said the restaurant is of the businesses identified in the city’s Retail Strategy and Recruitment Plan presented Oct. 25 to City Council.
“Through this process we identified several retailers, [including Buffalo Wild Wings], that were on our list that have already announced they are opening locations in Georgetown,” said Catalyst Commercial President Jason Claunch, who was hired by the city in April to complete the plan. “So for us, that validated the process.”
The plan included a market assessment and property analysis, potential tenant identification; and developing a merchandising plan as well as identifying the city’s primary trade area.
“We are creating a competitive retail strategy for Georgetown,” city Project Coordinator Andreina Davila said. “This will serve as a policy guide for development and a tool to recruit retail for Georgetown and to retail businesses.”
Georgetown Economic Development Director Michaela Dollar said Georgetown is ready for retail expansion.
“The market is prime,” Dollar said. “We know there are going to be some [businesses] that are already coming, but what can we do to help steer them to the right areas or bring in the right retailers and restaurants that would really work well with the ones that are already coming or here?”
Claunch said one of the first things his company did was a market assessment that outlined information about the city, including major employers, median income, traffic counts and major retail areas.
The assessment also helped define Georgetown’s primary trade area, or the region from which most of Georgetown’s shoppers originate. The results were surprising, Claunch said.
“It’s a competitive market and there are a lot of choices out there, so we were just surprised to see how much of a large impact Georgetown has on the market,” he said. “It’s not surprising [Georgetown brings people in] from the north, east and west, but it just surprised [us] about how much of Round Rock, North Austin and Cedar Park is [in the primary trade area].”
According to the plan, the primary trade area includes about 134,000 people with a median household income of $78,988 and about $13 billion of purchasing power, compared with about 58,000 people in the city limits with a median household income of $66,968 and $3.9 billion of purchasing power.
Claunch said understanding the trade area will help the city market to retailers.
“Once you hit the 100,000-125,000 population benchmark, it opens up to a larger audience of retailers,” he said. “Population and income are always dominant drivers [for retail], and so we recognize those are important factors to consider.”
The city’s population is projected to increase 40 percent between 2010 and 2020, Claunch said.
“The population in Georgetown is phenomenal,” Claunch told the council.
Based on that population growth, Claunch said the city could add about 62,000 square feet of retail—roughly the size of a grocery store—each year.
“You’re looking at a growth rate of 40 percent since 2010,” Claunch told the council. “This is an important factor as you look at [retail] capacity not only today but going forward into the future.”
The trade area is expected to change over time as the city grows and new retailers locate in the city; however, that population growth and where population growth is happening in the city, is another aspect Claunch said will assist with the city’s recruitment efforts and serve as a baseline to measure future growth.
Part of the analysis also looked at Georgetown’s retail leakage, or the amount of money leaving the community because of unmet demand.
About two-thirds of Georgetown residents’ money is spent in Georgetown, Claunch said, meaning about one-third is spent outside the city limits.
According to the analysis, the city could currently support an additional 1 million-plus square feet of retail than is available today and another 1.4 million by 2046, with department stores, grocery stores, restaurants and general merchandisers making up the majority of the retail leakage.
Dollar said the plan outlines a list of potential retailers the city will target for recruitment efforts.
“We will be working with [Claunch] for the next two years to implement this strategy … monitor the [retail] pipeline and measure results,” she said, adding that city staff will review all of the prospects monthly and report regularly to City Council. “We really have an aggressive targeting plan. … We will continue to develop relationships with [real estate] brokers and developers.”
She said the city will also actively be attending trade shows.
Along with possible retailers, the plan outlines what anchor tenants and uses could be best for future development sites, such as Longhorn Junction at I-35 and SE Inner Loop, Wolf Lakes at I-35 and Hwy. 29, The Summit at Rivery Park at Rivery Boulevard and Wolf Ranch Parkway and Pecan Branch at Lakeway Drive and I-35.
Claunch said other areas prime for retail development include the intersections of Hwy. 29 and SH 130 as well as Williams Drive near Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Hwy. 195 and I-35.
Council Member Steve Fought said he hopes the plan helps the city be more proactive and strategic with the city’s land-use plan.
“That’s a part of our strategy. … Be proactive instead of reactive as sites come up,” he said. “If the council’s objective is to add to the commercial tax base, and it is, so we can realign off of residential [property taxes] and onto commercial … we need to incorporate this information into the land-use plan and stick to it in terms of zoning.”