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Hiring for Jordan Creek has begun


Eric Almquist is employee No. 1 at the Jordan Creek Town Center. And he is quickly gaining company.

Though the shopping mall isn’t expected to open for 10 months, some retailers that are planning stores there have already begun hiring employees. General Growth Properties Inc., the mall’s developer, for whom Almquist works as Jordan Creek’s general manager, is also looking for workers.

The companies that have begun accepting resumes are, without doubt, frontrunners. When it is complete, the $200 million project, which will be the largest shopping center in Iowa, could employ as many as 3,000 workers, officials from General Growth have estimated.

“We know a lot of people are interested in the project, and we’ve received a lot of resumes,” Almquist said.

General Growth is accepting applications for four positions: assistant general manager, group business development business representative, marketing manager and operations manager. Almquist, who is currently working out of a trailer on the 216-acre construction site, said he hopes to have those positions and about six others filled by the first of the year.

“Right now, we’re just starting to put together our management team,” Almquist said. “We want to get them focused” on the mall.

Daily maintenance and management of Jordan Creek will require about 100 employees, ranging from managers to security personnel and cleaning crews. Most of those services will contracted to specialist firms, Almquist said. General Growth will employ about 10 people directly for its management team, he said.

Younkers plans to begin hiring managers and other employees in midsummer, according to Julia Bentley, a spokeswoman for the department store’s parent company, Saks Inc. The location will eventually employ about 225 people, she said.

So far, the retailer doing the most local hiring is Scheels All Sports. The company, which in recent weeks has been advertising job openings throughout Greater Des Moines, has hired about 25 workers. The store will employ about 250 people when it opens Aug. 4.

The early hiring is part of the sporting goods retailer’s strategy to train its workers well and ensure that the first months of operation at a new location run as flawlessly as possible, according to Steve Scheel, the company’s chairman and chief executive.

The company typically begins hiring as early as nine months in advance of a new store opening. It places those new workers in other Scheels locations and trains them on the job. The company pays for temporary housing and other travel-related expenses that are incurred as a result of the extensive training. Scheel said the training reduces turnover.

“We send them out to our best stores to train, so that when they come on, our customers are working with the best people,” Scheel said. “It’s expensive to do it this way, but we take a lot of time to hire good people. When we open the store, it’ll have the most experienced people at the mall.”

The Scheels store, at 167,000 square feet, will be the second-largest full-line sporting goods store in the nation, bested only by another Scheels store now being built in Omaha. The Des Moines store, which is one of Jordan Creek’s anchor tenants, will be 50 percent larger than the company’s Iowa City outlet.

Bill Nelson, store manager for Scheels at Jordan Creek, said he hopes to have 50 workers hired by the first of the year. Workers who have been hired so far include assistant managers, office managers and departmental managers. Nelson, who previously worked at Scheels’ Fargo, N.D., store, began with the company 16 years ago as a part-time delivery truck driver. He moved to Des Moines in August.

“We’re moving along,” he said. “We’re getting ready to have some fun.”


By Michael Swanger

As construction at Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines steams ahead for an Aug. 4 opening, developers are unveiling their plans to build near the new shopping center with hopes of capturing some of the customer traffic it will generate.

Des Moines developers Randy Walters, John Grubb and John Kline recently announced they will team to build Bridgewood Plaza, a three-building retail complex across the street from the entrance to Jordan Creek at 74th Street and Bridgewood Drive.

The $5 million, 55,000-square-foot complex that will occupy eight acres of  land is scheduled to be completed next spring. Plans for the complex show it will include a 4,000-square-foot bank, two restaurants with patios and a gas station. An existing bike trail will encircle the complex.

Developers say potential tenants include restaurants, dry cleaners, travel and insurance agencies, hair salons, clothing stores, sporting goods, banks and medical offices.   They will occupy single-story retail space that will feature brick and stone exteriors with spacious glass storefronts. Tenants can rent space for a minimum of five years at $22 per square foot with the option to renew their contract for two to five years.

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