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City looks ahead to proposed new shopping center

Published 4/2/2012 in Progress

By SHAJIA AHMAD

sahmad@gctelegram.com

Where to shop and eat in Garden City could get a lot more interesting if and when a new shopping center comes to fruition.

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Brad Nading/Telegram Traffic makes its way along the U.S. Highway 83/50 Bypass at the Schulman Avenue intersection.

Brad Nading/Telegram Traffic makes its way along the U.S. Highway 83/50 Bypass at the Schulman Avenue intersection.

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Brad Nading/Telegram A crew from Lee Construction works on demolishing the old Golden Plains Credit Union building west of the new facility in the 1700 block of East Kansas Avenue.

Brad Nading/Telegram A crew from Lee Construction works on demolishing the old Golden Plains Credit Union building west of the new facility in the 1700 block of East Kansas Avenue.

City officials have been working for several months with Charlotte, N.C.-based Collett & Associates, a commercial real estate company that has proposed a $67.2 million shopping complex with 400,000 square feet of retail space.

The proposed retail expanse is planned for a location just north of Schulman Avenue and south of Sam's Club, directly east of the U.S. Highway 50/83/400 bypass, on about 61 acres of private land.

City Manager Matt Allen has spoken in favor of the project, and already city commissioners have approved a "memorandum of understanding" with Collett, a move made in mid-January, with the intention to help secure financing for the first phase of the project.

The first phase of the shopping center includes development and construction of one large big-box retail store about 160,000 square-feet in size; four outlots for retail, parking and related infrastructure; and necessary highway, street and infrastructure improvements.

The identities of the retail stores that could be part of the development remain undisclosed by both city officials and the development company.

Allen has said the retail development could significantly boost Garden City's regional retail pull from surrounding communities, in addition to benefits of higher sales tax revenues, the creation of retail jobs, and a more diversified shopping experience in Garden City.

"We are the regional retail hub," the city manager has said. "If we're going to preserve that, we're going to have to stay on top of that."

City officials are hoping to cover the public contribution of the project ¬­--¬­ estimated at nearly $17.8 million for both phases and nearly $5.3 million for the project's first phase — by creating a tax-increment financing district at the location.

Better known as a TIF district, the move would hold the property tax liability of the development at its current appraised value for the next 20 years.

Creating a TIF district will allow the city to issue bonds to raise money for the retail project, using the future revenue stream — foregone property taxes — as a debt repayment tool. The popular financing mechanism is used to subsidize infrastructure and other community-improvement projects across the country, city officials have said.

The property taxes still are paid by all the new property owners, but the tax increment is devoted to paying the debt service on the bonds issued, in order to make the project a reality.

John Collett, chairman of Collett & Associates, said his real estate company has been looking at Garden City for about a year.

"We identified Garden City as a market because we felt it could attract a nice sized community (of shoppers)," he has said. "Even though there's 30,000 to 35,000 people, with the huge geographic draw, it adds up to 175,000 to 200,000 customers. It's an area we think we can assemble many of these regional tenants we typically deal with."

Already, the company has worked with additional Kansas communities including Kansas City and Olathe in development of shopping centers Collett referred to as "power centers."

Collett said city officials in Garden City have been incredibly cooperative in working with his company, exhibiting a "can-do spirit" that has moved the processes along.

The chairman of the North Carolina business said it's his company's hope that if all goes according to plan, building for the proposed shopping center will begin this late summer to early fall, with an opening for the largest anchor store in the spring of 2013.

"We very much have an open book with the city, and a high confidence level in the city," Collett has said. "They've been very cooperative and helpful in response to making these transactions real."

Collett & Associates has built shopping centers in several major Oklahoma cities, in addition to Arizona and eight states in the southeastern United States.

In the nearest state — Oklahoma — some of the largest retail stores in Collett's properties include Lowe's Home Center in Edmond; a Kohl's store at the University Town Center II in Norman. The company has a Barnes & Noble store at their Shoppes At Plainview mall in Louisville, Ky.

Some examples of various other smaller chain stores at other Collett properties include the following: Ross, OfficeMax, Petco, Payless Shoe Source, Babies 'R' Us, Target, and Starbucks, according to the company's website.

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