Led­bet­ter seeks TAD aid to re­de­velop old Kmart site

De­vel­oper hop­ing to bring in 20-28 busi­nesses new to the area

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Doug Walker [email protected]

Rome’s Re­de­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee has agreed to move for­ward with an ef­fort to cre­ate a Re­de­vel­op­ment District in the area of the old Kmart on Hicks Drive.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Led­bet­ter Prop­er­ties told the com­mit­tee Mon­day they could not move for­ward with the ac­qui­si­tion and re­de­vel­op­ment of the nearly 20 acre site without Tax Al­lo­ca­tion District fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

Wright Led­bet­ter ex­plained the for­mer Kmart site, aban­doned since the sum­mer of 2016, would qual­ify as a TAD district un­der at least two cri­te­ria.

The area would in­clude an­other area pre­vi­ously des­ig­nated for com­mer­cial devel­op­ment but is cur­rently less de­sir­able than re­de­vel­op­ment for new com­mer­cial use and the fact that the build­ings by rea­son of ob­so­les­cence is con­ducive to high un­em­ploy­ment.

Led­bet­ter said there are just no users for the ex­ist­ing 180,000 square foot build­ing and in or­der to ac­quire and de­mol­ish the ex­ist­ing build­ings on the parcels, then take on new con­struc­tion de­vel­op­ers have a sig­nif­i­cant fea­si­bil­ity gap which only TAD fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance could close.

When a TAD is cre­ated lo­cal gov­ern­ment sets a base­line for prop­erty taxes gen­er­ated within the district. As im­prove­ments are made and taxes go up, a por­tion of the in­creased taxes are re­turned to the de­vel­oper over a spe­cific pe­riod of time to off­set the cost of the devel­op­ment.

At this point, Led­bet­ter Prop­er­ties is seek­ing be­tween $1.8 mil­lion and $2 mil­lion over a 15 year pe­riod of time and propos­ing re­con­struc­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 108,000 square feet of new space.

“We are fairly far along in dis­cus­sions with th­ese po­ten­tial ten­ants,” Wright Led­bet­ter said. “I’m very op­ti­mistic if not a lit­tle ex­cited about some in­ter­est we have in this prop­erty.”

Joe Holmes said he be­lieved 90 per­cent of the new ten­ants would be new to the Rome mar­ket. Bob Led­bet­ter Jr. said the pre­lim­i­nary plans call for be­tween 20 and 28 ten­ants and that his com­pany would also make im­prove­ments to Hicks Drive as part of the pro­ject.

The busi­ness plan for the pro­ject, which is also still ten­ta­tive at this time, es­ti­mates that devel­op­ment could cre­ate up­wards of 400 new jobs and gen­er­ate as ad­di­tional $2 mil­lion in an­nual sales taxes.

“Rome’s de­mo­graph­ics be­lie its po­ten­tial as a grow­ing re­tail re­gional hub for our area,” Wright Led­bet­ter said. “A lot of the na­tional re­tail­ers don’t give us enough credit for draw­ing from a six-county foot­print.”

Rome Com­mis­sioner Craig McDaniel said the devel­op­ment could go a long way to­ward re­vers­ing the trend of lo­cal res­i­dents leav­ing the com­mu­nity to shop. Some of the re­tail­ers the de­vel­op­ers are talk­ing with cur­rently have stores in the North Metro or Chat­tanooga area, Wright Led­bet­ter said, but are far enough away that put­ting a store in Rome should not hurt those lo­ca­tions.

“For Rome, the ben­e­fits and up­side of this would clearly out­weigh what’s sit­ting on the ground over there right now,” Wright said.

“Peo­ple have dis­cre­tionary money and they’re go­ing to spend it some­where and we’d rather them spend it here,” McDaniel said.

The com­mit­tee agreed to have a con­sul­tant do a for­mal study to cre­ate the re­de­vel­op­ment district. Led­bet­ter Prop­er­ties agreed to fund half the cost of that study, which City Man­ager Sammy Rich es­ti­mated could cost be­tween $10,000 and $15,000.

The pro­posed time­line for the pro­ject calls for the clos­ing of the prop­erty sale by May of this year, with site work get­ting un­der­way by Au­gust and the first out­parcels de­liv­ered as pad ready to po­ten­tial ten­ants by next May and com­ple­tion of pri­mary con­struc­tion by Au­gust of 2020.

/ Diane Wag­ner

Led­bet­ter Prop­er­ties’ plan to re­de­velop the old Kmart site in­cludes im­prove­ments to Hicks Drive at Turner McCall Boule­vard and re­plac­ing the va­cant build­ings with res­tau­rants, small shops and an­chor stores. For a de­tailed con­cep­tual site plan, see page A6.

/ Diane Wag­ner

“I’ll be glad to see some­thing come in here. It’s a great cor­ner,” said James Roberts, who was selling blan­kets Mon­day on the old Kmart site slated for re­de­vel­op­ment on Hicks Drive at Turner McCall Boule­vard.

Re­de­vel­op­ment plans for the cor­ner of Turner McCall Boule­vard and Hicks Drive in­clude de­mo­li­tion of the va­cant Kmart build­ing.

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