- Associated Press - Sunday, January 8, 2017

ALTUS, Okla. (AP) - It’s been said that someone can’t go home again, but Hobby Lobby founder David Green wants to give it a try.

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. is developing a store in the Northtown Shopping Center, 1700 N. Main St. in Altus.

The center is owned by Oklahoma City-based Zerby Interests. Some of Zerby’s projects include the Westgate Marketplace along Interstate 40 and the Oak Grove center at NW 122nd Street and MacArthur Boulevard.

Hobby Lobby will occupy more than 59,000 square feet in the center, taking over the former Hastings Entertainment space. Locke Supply is leaving as well and constructing a new building, said Caleb Hill, principal with Zerby.

CBRE Oklahoma retail broker Mark Inman represented Hobby Lobby in the lease transaction. He said Hobby Lobby has been interested in the market for a long time, but there are not many opportunities for a prime retail location.

The Journal Record (https://bit.ly/2iwZvi3 ) reported the city has a special place in Green’s heart. He grew up in Altus and started working retail at McClellan’s five-and-dime on Hudson Street. The closest Hobby Lobby store is in Lawton, with another store opening in Elk City on Jan. 2. Both stores are more than 50 miles from Altus.

“We have some loyal customers in the area and we look forward to getting our doors open and becoming a part of the community,” said Bob Miller, communications coordinator for Hobby Lobby.

Zerby purchased the Northtown Center about a year ago, Hill said. The company also purchased a nearby United Grocery Store corporate headquarters office building and grocery store. The store is now an Ace Hardware.

The Bunker Hill Shopping Center was part of the same transaction. Tenants at Bunker Hill include Maurice’s and Payless Shoe Source.

“We’re continuing to work with new tenants on that center,” said Hill. “But it’s pretty well-stabilized.”

Hill said Zerby is planning a full remodel to the former Hastings/Locke Supply, with an anticipated opening date for Hobby Lobby in fall 2017. He said Hobby Lobby’s new entrance will be closer to Locke Supply’s former front door.

Hill said he thinks there could be other retailers that follow Hobby Lobby if it finds the market to be successful. He said Altus has a regional draw with people coming from outside the city to shop in the area.

“We think Hobby Lobby coming to the market is a retailer that will continue to enhance the trade area,” he said. “National retailers will take a look at the market now when they may not have previously.”

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Information from: The Journal Record, https://www.journalrecord.com

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