EL PASO, Texas - It's taken five years of planning, clearing land and construction.
On Wednesday, the first store opened for business in the City's newest shopping center. Dick's Sporting Goods held a soft opening at the new 600,000 square foot Fountains at Farah. There are 540 Dick's Sporting Goods across the country -- including one in Las Cruces.
The grand opening is scheduled for Friday with giveaways and celebrity autograph sessions Saturday. Stein Mart's Fountains location opens Thursday.
Dick's Sporting Goods brought dozens of new jobs. Talk is, hundreds of more jobs are still to come at the Fountains, making it a big deal not only for the El Paso shopper looking for more choices, but also huge for those looking for work.
More than 60 stores are set to open by the end of next month, making it the biggest influx of new jobs here in years.
"I wanted to see what it was about," said Tony Canaba, who woke up early to make sure he was one of the first ever to shop at El Paso's first Dick's Sporting Goods. "I like it. I like it a lot."
He wasn't the only one who just had to see the new Fountains at Farah. El Paso billionaire and Fountains at Farah developer Paul Foster checked up on one of his newest endeavors.
"It's going to create a lot of jobs and a lot of commerce," Foster said. "I think we'll see people come not only from around El Paso, but from other parts, from Chihuahua and Las Cruces and other places."
Canaba said he's looking for work and plans to apply at some of the Fountains at Farah stores. Foster and others believe the shopping center will create close to 700 retail jobs and that will have a big impact on the El Paso economy.
"We've tried to do something different, something El Paso hasn't had before and I think we've accomplished that," Foster said.
It's also expected to accomplish the city's biggest one-time addition of new jobs in more than a decade, according to Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande. Dick's sporting goods alone filled 70 new positions, most of them part-time. But Foster thinks the Fountains will have an affect El Paso's high unemployment rate.
"We're not finished leasing space," he said. "I think when people see the quality of the construction, the quality of the development out here, I think we're going to continue to attract good retailers to El Paso and hopefully this will the catalyst for more things to come."
There are still jobs available, including management positions at the new Walgreens. Contact Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande for information. Many other stores are opening in coming weeks. Fountains at Farah officials say all the stores, the skating rink and amphitheater will be completed by the end of October.