DeKALB – Roger Hopkins is feeling good about the city’s economic future.
“Everybody should be pretty positive,” said DeKalb’s economic development consultant.
Hopkins presented an economic development report to the DeKalb City Council earlier this month. The report highlighted some of the changes that have occurred in the city in the past few months.
At the Oakland Place Shopping Center along Sycamore Road, Hopkins said the Hallmark store is reopening, and there are prospects to fill the former Old Navy space at 2347 Sycamore Road.
In downtown DeKalb, he noted the sale of the Old DeKalb Clinic buildings to 1st Ward Alderman Dave Jacobson and Lincoln Inn owners Bill and Joy McMahon. He also referenced the construction of the new McDonald’s, as well as the opening of Alexis Kay Designs and MCR Framing.
In an interview, Hopkins said there should be a number of new retail merchants, particularly ones that specialize in men’s and women’s clothing, opening in DeKalb if city staff is successful.
“There is some substantial new revenue coming online,” Hopkins said. “If we’re successful with the targeting of our merchants, we’ll be pretty optimistic with new tenants.”
One of the challenges the city will continue to face in terms of economic development is attracting and keeping national retailers such as Best Buy and JCPenney.
“The one thing going in our favor is, for the most part, these businesses have a monopoly on their services in town,” Hopkins said.
At the meeting and in the interview, Hopkins stressed the need for newer, higher-priced houses and apartments in DeKalb. He said the 350 to 400 empty lots in the city would be filled in a short span when the economy recovers.
“Once the economy gets moving again, that’s only a three-to-four year supply in a moderate housing market,” Hopkins said.