(Originally published October 11, 2005.)

Residents living on the west side of Hesperia near Interstate 15 will get their own shopping center, anchored by the city's first Target store, the Hesperia City Council announced at last week's meeting. The new High Desert Gateway shopping center is expected to open in March 2007.

"It's with great pleasure that we announce to the public that Target has announced it will build a new store in Hesperia," Mayor Jim Lindley said at the council meeting.

The 124,000 square foot store will be one of two "big box" stores in the High Desert Gateway shopping center, located west of I-15 at Main Street and an extended Cataba Road. The city would not disclose the name of the other big box store, at the request of the company, but it is listed as a home improvement store on the site plan. The building will have a pick-up canopy in the front of the building and a special lumber off-loading dock at the rear of the building. An outdoor shopping area, like those commonly used for nurseries at home improvement stores, is adjacent to the main building.

In addition, two smaller major store spaces between the two big box stores will form the core of the 42-acre shopping center. Around the perimeter of the shopping center's parking lot are eight areas that will house smaller shops and restaurants. The Lewis Retail Centers site plan is only a preliminary outline, however, as the city's planning department has not yet signed off on all details of the project.

Lewis Retail Centers, one of the largest shopping center developers in California and Nevada, also developed the Victoria Gardens shopping center in Rancho Cucamonga.

"I know that site has been under scrutiny by Lewis and others for at least a year and a half for a big box retailer, and I know Target has been nosing around for at least a couple of years," Lindley said later. "It was a good location.

"The hang-up was how much we were going to incentivize the project. ... It wasn't nearly as much as the developer and Target wanted."

It is a common practice for municipalities to strike special deals with developers and businesses to make setting up shop in the area more attractive. Previously, that might have meant tax breaks for a set period or other economic inducements.

"The changes to the redevelopment law and the laws of California, there's a lot more restrictions on cities to do inducement deals," Director of Economic Development Steve Lantsberger said, "So nowadays, cities are building infrastructure instead of writing checks."

For the High Desert Gateway center, it'll mostly be improvements most Hesperians can identify with: roads.

"They wanted some off-site improvements in terms of road widening and access points, and the city is going to pay for that," Lindley said. "It's just something you have to do to get something started in town. ... We know the next big project - which I'd love to tell you about, but just can't - we'll have to incentivize even less."

Other tenants in the shopping center are being finalized and will be announced soon, the mayor said.

"A company like Lewis doesn't do this unless they've got pretty full occupancy."

On the other side of the extended Cataba Road is the site of the proposed Timbisha Shoshone casino.

"The casino thing, I don't think, entered into the equation at all," Lindley said. "They already have the retail formulas on how they're going to make their money."

The next Hesperia City Council meeting will be held on October 19 at 6:30 p.m. in Hesperia City Hall.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at beau@hesperiastar.com or by telephone at 956-7108.