Carlsbad seeks new business with 40-acre mall

Nearly 40 acres of vacant land south of Carlsbad could one day come alive with 20 retail stores and restaurants combined, said Carlsbad Development Department marketing manager Jeff Campbell.

Campbell called the mall project Project Whale.

The mall will be located along the National Parks Highway near the intersection with Chapman Road.

Campbell said the Carlsbad Development Department (CDOD) has noticed the community’s population density has shifted south along the National Parks Highway over the past five years.

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“There have been at least two apartment complexes that have opened. There have been several subdivisions just off the National Parks Highway and further south between the National Parks Highway and the Old Cavern Highway. There’s been a lot of infill with housing developments there,” Campbell said.

Carlsbad’s population density, a measure of population in a unit area, was 1,0008 people per square mile, according to data from the World Population Review. Carlsbad’s population grew from 26,138 in 2010 to 32,238 in 2020, according to U.S. Census data.

Albuquerque’s Pegasus Group is the developer of the project which has seen two national retailers commit to leases, Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said.

He said Massachusetts-based Marshalls Department and Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby would open new locations in the center.

Hobby Lobby’s impending Carlsbad location would be the third in southeastern New Mexico, according to the company’s website. The store has a location in Roswell and one in Hobbs.

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Marshalls has locations in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, according to the company’s website.

Campbell said the new stores could prevent “retail leaks” — money that leaves Carlsbad when people shop in larger communities.

“It hurts our bottom line in terms of gross receipts taxes (GRT) that we can’t recoup because they go to other markets,” he said.

Vacant land south of Carlsbad could house some large retailers and restaurants, said Jeff Campbell of the Carlsbad Development Department.

“When we see it, we see a lot of needs that are here, we see them as opportunities to try to fill a consumer base,” Campbell said.

He said CDOD has worked for nearly 10 years to bring established national retailers into the community.

“It just turns out that different circumstances didn’t allow them to be here in the past, either because of the population or their own expansion plans. It seems that some stars align better for us. The Pegasus band is the backbone of that,” Campbell said.

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Janway said Pegasus has helped the city of Carlsbad in the past with recruiting retailers, including Ross Dress for Less at 811 West Pierce.

“It’s going to help us keep gross dollar revenue here in town and finally give people what they’re asking for in terms of restaurant and retail needs,” Campbell said.

Efforts to bring in national retailers and restaurants involve commitments from all parts of Carlsbad and Eddy County, Campbell said.

“The mayor, the councilman, everyone is always looking for things to come to Carlsbad. They were behind many projects right from the start,” he said.

Jeff Campbell, Director of Marketing and Business Development at the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce speaks to visitors before introducing the 2017 class of Carlsbad's 40 Under 40.

Campbell credited the City of Carlsbad’s Planning, Engineering, and Regulatory Department with fostering the growth of business, retail, industry, and housing in the city.

He said construction of the mall could take two years and no firm date has been set for groundbreaking and construction.

“This is a monumental development for Carlsbad and further proof that our city continues to grow,” Janway said.

Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] Where @ArgusMichae on Twitter.

Edwin S. Wolfe