It was enough to make a husband-and-wife dental team grin. As Drs. Seth and Lauren Schroeder watched the annual Harrisburg Days Parade in 2019, “we saw what we believed was the most jampacked parade route lined with strollers,” Seth Schroeder said. “There’s a lot of families.” To them, that meant demand for dental care.

“We were in dental school at Nebraska, worked a few years and had done a whole bunch of research on where to start our family business,” Schroeder said. “So we set the wheels in motion and sent an email to the Chamber of Commerce and said: ‘Is there anything you can do? We want to be dentists in Harrisburg.’ ” It led them to connect with Gregg Brown of NAI Sioux Falls, who had a future retail center as an option. “It took a year of building, and in September of 2020, we had the doors open and the first patient in the door,” Schroeder said.

Harrisburg Family Dental leased three of the seven spaces available in the new Creekside Plaza retail center – or 3,000 square feet. It’s more than they need now, “but we built it so we can grow into it over the years,” Schroeder said. “We want it to feel like you’re walking into your living room – a nice homey feel versus sterile. And it’s going awesome. You can’t believe how much traffic there is. Our biggest advertising comes from people knowing where we are, seeing the signage.” And it wasn’t long before Harrisburg Family Dental gained new neighbors. The nearly 9,000-square-foot Creekside building drew fast interest, thanks to its strategically strong location at the prominent intersection of Cliff Avenue and Willow Street. It’s now fully leased. “The coolest thing is every single one of these tenants lives in Harrisburg,” Brown said. “These are local people, they have kids who go to the schools, and in most cases, they were brand-new businesses to Harrisburg.”

The tenant mix includes Edward Jones, Evolve Chiropractic, RightQuote and Serenity Nail Spa. “It was clear the demand was to have quality space, a brand-new building,” Brown said. “This was on the heels of Sanford and Lewis breaking ground, you’ve got Fareway and Ace nearby, so Cliff and Willow really has become Main and Main for Harrisburg.” That was the vision shared by Ernst Capital Group, which included Creekside Plaza in its third real estate investment fund with local developer Signature Cos. The Signature Real Estate Income Fund III raised more than $16 million in private investment to support four local projects.

“It’s our first retail and office development outside of Sioux Falls, and we’re thrilled with the market response,” said Chris Daugaard of Ernst Capital Group. “The occupancy and tenant mix here show the momentum Harrisburg is experiencing residentially, and it’s clear Creekside Plaza is positioned to meet a need commercially.” Construction will start in the coming weeks on a second, nearly identical retail center, that will be available this fall. Suites range from 985 to 1,792 square feet, including end caps with drive-thru capability, building and monument signage and five-year minimum leases.

“Part of what is making this such a desirable fit for businesses is the approach that developer Signature is taking with construction, using an in-house architect, so we can meet with a prospect, turn around a space plan and lease proposal and then quantify for them what their contribution would be toward the build-out,” Brown said. “Signature builds out to its specs, and then the tenant pays for any upgrades. So they pick their finishes, and the speed to market is amazing. It’s been a difference-maker and made it really seamless and a unique model.”

Creekside II could be a good fit for a fitness center, coffee shop, bank or any other retailer or service provider looking to capture the growing Harrisburg market, Brown added. “There were a lot of prospects we talked to who couldn’t commit during COVID, so my hope is they will be ready for a building that delivers later this year,” he said, adding there’s also room on the site for a standalone restaurant, bank or office. “Ernst Capital Group makes the decisions on leases with Signature, and Lloyd Cos. manages it, so we have a lot of parties involved, but it’s worked really seamless and been a lot of fun to work on,” Brown said. Schroeder encourages other business owners to consider locating there.

“I would say there is a massive amount of traffic, and it’s a small-enough town where, when your business is being built, everybody already knows what you are,” he said. “If you have a service people need, they will utilize you rather than going to Sioux Falls.”

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