An international apparel retailer known for its yoga pants is coming to downtown Lincoln.
According to a building permit filed Thursday, the building on the southeast corner of 14th and P streets that housed Post & Nickel for decades will become home to Lululemon later this year.
Lululemon, which sells high-end athletic and leisure wear for both men and women, opened a temporary store at Gateway Mall in August of last year and wound up keeping it open several months longer than planned, ultimately closing at the end of May.
The company could not immediately be reached for comment Friday about its downtown plans. However, the news thrilled Downtown Lincoln Association president Todd Ogden.
“It’s a big deal, I think, especially with the impact of having something on that corner where we lost the Post & Nickel,” Ogden said. “It’s vitally important to have catalyst retail on key corners downtown and, especially at 14th and P streets, which is our main connection between downtown and the university.”
Post & Nickel closed in November after operating for more than 50 years. Ogden said the Sup family, which operated the clothing store and owns the building, deserves credit for getting a new retailer in the space. Chase Bank plans to open its first Nebraska location in the building later this year.
Officials for Lululemon, which has a store at Village Pointe in Omaha, told analysts earlier this year that the company is working with four types of stores — temporary, pop-up stores; 3,000-square-foot stores; 5,500-square-foot stores; and massive 25,000-square-foot versions such as the one that opened in Chicago this month.
According to a CNBC report, Lululemon often looks to sign short-term leases — three to six months — that allow it to test new markets or capitalize on foot traffic near universities.
The company said it had 60 so-called seasonal stores in 2018, including one near the University of Kansas.
Although Lululemon’s long-term plans downtown are uncertain, its arrival should help existing downtown retailers and the store could be a linchpin in bringing more stores downtown, said Buck Kiechel of Kiechel Fine Art, who moved his business from Williamsburg Village to O street in 2013. It is now the region’s largest commercial art gallery.
“I think it’s great that a big national retailer, a quality one at that, is coming to downtown," Kiechel said of the Lululemon announcement. "It would be nice to revive the retail scene. I remember as a kid that’s where all the shopping was. Then for 30 years, it’s been almost nothing. Hopefully, this is the start of it coming back.”
The key reasons for optimism for the return of downtown retail, Ogden said, are a pair of intertwined elements — more University of Nebraska-Lincoln students living downtown and an increase in permanent residents created by residential development over the last decade.
“A big deal is more and more university students are finding their way downtown, more of them are living downtown, and we have more people generally living downtown,” Ogden said. “It’s always been a chicken-and-egg thing. We’ve added about 3,000 downtown residents in the last few years, and you’re going to start seeing the effect of that. They’re going to be spending money downtown on retail like this and on other downtown activities and offerings.”
So Ogden expects to see more retailers come downtown.
“I’m getting more people calling looking for space,” he said. “There’s been a lot of development over the last few years. This is the next step in that development, to get those spaces filled. That’s going to start to happen.”
In 2015, former Husker Ndamukong Suh revealed plans to develop a Nike store in the former Nebraska Bookstore space at 13th and Q streets. Those plans were scrapped a year later and the space is now set to become the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.