FARMINGTON — Construction has begun on a new $4 million shopping center on the city's west side that is expected to add to the region's retail offerings this fall.

The Farmington Crossing shopping center, to be built near the Walmart Supercenter on West Main Street, is slated to open in November, according to the Dallas-based developer.

Jason Puig — a partner with White Oak Development who has spearheaded the project — said the shopping area will include a new Anytime Fitness gym, a Durango Joe's coffee shop, a Verizon dealer, a Great Clips hair salon and MetroPCS, a pay-as-you-go cell phone carrier.

Puig said the five businesses represent a new investment in the city's west side. All five of the companies expected to set up shop in the new center are currently operating other locations around San Juan County.

The 19,500-square-foot center, which will be able to hold up to 10 different stores, backs up against Apache Street. Puig said he has leased 80 percent of the development.

When selecting tenants for the shopping center, Puig said he paid special consideration to the customer base on Farmington's west side, which, he said, is composed mostly of people who come to town from the Navajo Nation, less than 30 minutes' drive west, typically on weekends.

"I think the west side is underserving the needs of the Navajo Indians (and other customers)," Puig said. "(My) building a shopping center is an attempt to assist with that lack of services and provide what is just not available on that side of town. I wanted to have some services available that they don’t have on the west side. It’s going to have a huge impact on Farmington."

Puig said he would like to fill the remaining open storefront spaces in his shopping center with a restaurant or sandwich shop and a bank. He said he was against the idea of adding a liquor or tobacco store.

Since 2000, White Oak has built an average of about 10 shopping centers across the U.S. each year, all of them on parcels beside Walmart Supercenters, Puig said.

He said he sees his retail spots as serving Walmart customers, a sizable number, which guarantees his tenants will do 25 percent better than stores elsewhere in town.

Anytime Fitness, a gym that never closes, plans to open its third location in Puig's shopping center.

With its first location near the Animas Valley Mall in Farmington and a second gym opened in Aztec in 2011, the gym averages around 1,000 members per location.

Founded in 2002, Anytime Fitness was rated first for the second year in a row on Entrepreneur magazine's top 200 global franchises list. The fitness franchise has about 3,200 gyms in all 50 states and on five continents with 2.7 million members, according to a June 30 press release from the company. A membership at one Anytime Fitness is honored at the other locations.

Local franchise owner Sandy Schumacher said she was encouraged to commit to opening a third gym because the west side of Farmington lacks sufficient workout spots.

"A lot of our (East Farmington and Aztec) members come from the west side — from Kirtland, from Fruitland, from Shiprock," Schumacher said. "This will be such a huge convenience for them. I'm just so excited about our being on the west end of Farmington. I think it's really going to be beneficial."

For 15 years, Schumacher was the general manager of the Animas Valley Mall in Farmington and is a past president of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In April, the franchise's location on West Aztec Boulevard was given the Aztec Chamber of Commerce's business of the year award, a recognition for the gym's support of Peach's Neat Feet. Until the end of the year, $1 from each new standard gym membership is donated to the nonprofit, which helps children with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses.

The gym's continual expansion averages about 300 new gyms opened each year for the last nine years.

Durango Joe's owner Joe Lloyd said his coffee business is also expanding its presence in Farmington with another Durango Joe's coffee shop next to the Smoothie King in the center of town.
James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.

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