|By Melissa S. Monroe, San Antonio
Express-NewsMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 12, 2007 - The developer of the massive The Rim shopping center in Northwest San Antonio plans to open five or even six hotels there within the next few years and is working to lure retailers such as Whole Foods and IKEA.
Stan Thomas, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Thomas Enterprises Inc., said his company has been attracting retailers and companies that once were eyeing downtown or North Central San Antonio.
The Rim center will include two Marriott hotels and an upscale boutique hotel and spa called The Stanbury. The Stanbury, also going in at a Thomas Enterprises development in Atlanta, is a luxury hotel that combines residences with hotel rooms.
Other companies exploring locating at The Rim at Loop 1604 and Interstate 10 include Dick's Sporting Goods and Staples, Thomas said.
Thomas was in San Antonio on Thursday for the opening of a Chick-fil-A restaurant at The Rim, which drew hundreds of customers.
That area of the city needs more hotels, said Marco A. Barros, president and CEO of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council.
"The area around The Rim shopping center is one of the fastest-growing areas in San Antonio, and more hotel rooms are needed to serve the demand created by Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Westin La Cantera Resort, UTSA and other corporate businesses," Barros said.
"I foresee that area growing all the way to Boerne and offering various hotel brand names" for visitors to San Antonio.
Kimberly S. Gatley, director of market research for REOC Partners, a local commercial real estate firm, said both developers and retailers are seeing the value of the Northwest market.
"As a national developer, Thomas Enterprises recognizes San Antonio as being underserved," she said.
"From the start of the project, it's been successful. The development we are seeing at The Rim and The Shops at La Cantera are basically meeting the pent-up demand for retailers and services. We will continue to see the residential growth and expansion of more retail services." She added she has heard that Whole Foods wants to bring another store here, and IKEA has expressed interest as well.
Developer Thomas said his company, which has centers in Georgia, Florida and California, has worked with Whole Foods in the past, and he hopes the retailer picks The Rim for another store.
However, a Whole Foods spokesman reached late Thursday said the company doesn't have plans to open another store in San Antonio.
Thomas said his company also is in active conversations with IKEA, and getting it would add more regional appeal to the center. IKEA recently opened a store in Round Rock.
Thomas said the second phase of the project, called The Village, is already under way, and he envisions the center being the future of San Antonio.
"One of the great things about this site is it's like Main Street," he said. "It's convenient and visible. It has a regional draw to it with the retailers that are here -- and it still feels local." Some of the anchors of the 800-acre site are Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, the Palladium theater, JCPenney, Best Buy and Target.
Thomas said both Bass Pro and the Palladium have been a regional attraction for shoppers, and the Palladium is considered the seventh-busiest theater in North America.
To complement the hotels, Thomas added that the center also is getting four restaurants new to the city that he chose not to identify.
His company also is working on convincing companies to locate their headquarters at the shopping center, which will combine residential units, upscale condos, an office complex and an auto dealership.
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