Wednesday, September 25, 2013

‘Fountains’ Weekend 1: Many Shoppers, No Actual Fountains Yet

Point of View

Thousands of El Pasoans flocked to the Fountains at Farah this past weekend as three stores have now opened at the new shopping center. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, and Stein Mart saw throngs of customers during their grand opening weekend.
The sheer number of visitors to the Fountains at Farah shopping center last weekend forced many to park in front of stores that haven't opened yet. Parking areas in front of Dick's Sporting Goods and Best Buy were completely full at times.

Parking was difficult to find in the upper level parking lots, especially in front of the Best Buy and Dick’s locations, which are right next to each other. Patrons parked in lots further east and walked in front of still-closed retailers to reach the new stores. Despite the pleasant temperatures in the region, the mass of concrete and lack of greenery made for a steamy hike. Large, empty planters most likely mean that plants will soon be added.

Many portions of the center are still closed, particularly the promenade area in the lower-front section of the Fountains. This “main street” area was blocked off due to ongoing construction. Crews had to maneuver around shoppers’ vehicles to get to certain parts of the center.
Traffic was bumper to bumper on Saturday as thousands of shoppers descended on the Fountains at Farah.

The promenade will have most of the touted “lifestyle” amenities, including an amphitheater, green space, and boutiques. The center’s namesake fountains may also be located here; none were seen in the upper level big box area, though ongoing construction could prove different in the future.
Construction continues on the promenade area at the Fountains at Farah.

The center’s aesthetics seem to match schematic drawings that emerged last year. Centergy Retail, the Fountains at Farah developer, promised a level of design and materials not yet seen in El Paso when it first pitched the project to the City Council years back.

Escalators which will take shoppers to the promenade dot the upper deck of the parking area. Elevators are also strategically placed to take patrons to and from the lower parking deck but remain non-functioning due to construction.

Overall, the center’s first weekend seems to have drawn the interest of many, despite the differing opinions expressed by residents in the news and social media in recent months concerning the level of retailers set for the Fountains.

With the big box area all but leased out, the focus will shift to the promenade section to see if Centergy Retail is able to lure the more “upscale” retailers for which residents are hoping.