Higgins Marketplace development on Highway 49 plans on phased opening (PHOTO GALLERY)

The construction of Higgins Marketplace, a neighborhood shopping center set to open on Highway 49 near Combie Road, is nearing completion.

Started in September and previously projected to open in mid-July, the shopping center has now set an initial opening date of July 31, according to Katz Kirtkpatrick Properties Principal Fred Katz.

Katz said Holiday Market, which will occupy the largest space in the shopping center, will be finished first.

“Because we’ve been behind in construction, and Holiday (Market) had this hard opening date of July 31, we’ve been spending all of our time on the Holiday building,” said Katz. “We are approved for a phased development of the center — Holiday (Market) is the first phase.”

He added that remaining work on this portion of the site includes finishing the parking area and landscaping in order to meet county requirements.

According to Katz, the shopping center is about 64% leased at this time.

In the second phase of businesses to open in the shopping center, which will consist of smaller units of retail space, Katz said El Dorado Savings Bank and Culture Shock Yogurt have confirmed agreements to lease spots.

“We will be finishing that part of the shopping center Aug. 15 and turning it over to the tenants,” he said, adding that at that point the businesses will have 120 days to prepare the interiors of their units. “They will likely not be opening before December.”

COVID-19 and related public health measures have taken a toll on progress at this developing shopping center.

“It has been a challenge,” said Katz. “According to the contractor, they’re only about 70% as efficient or can only have that amount of the work force on the job as normal, because of social distancing.”

Katz said the delayed timeline for opening the center can be attributed to this setback in rate of construction, although leasing has presented complications as well.

“We had a nail salon who, because of COVID-19, currently can’t proceed,” said Katz, in reference to a business which had previously confirmed as set to lease.

“The leasing is behind schedule, not so much because of social distancing but because the coronavirus has had adverse effects on many retail businesses,” said Katz.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for . She can be reached at [email protected]

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