Lowe's wants to move quickly in opening home center here

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Lowe's Home Improvement Hardware wants to have a home center open in Carson City before year's end, according to a city planning official.

"They told me they intend to have their home center built and operating this year," Community Development Director Walt Sullivan said Thursday.

The community development department received special use permit and major project review applications Thursday from Lowe's for a store at Fairview Drive and Roop Street, former site of Ernst Hardware and, before that, Kmart.

"They intend to demolish the old building, install drainage and other infrastructure, construct the building, complete parking lot improvements and place landscaping within that time," Sullivan said. "It's a very ambitious schedule."

Especially since the national home improvement retailer has not bought or leased the property.

Tsutomu "Tom" Wakimoto, owner of the Silver City Mall where the store is proposed, has declined to acknowledge that negotiations are in progress with Lowe's. And a Lowe's representative said last week that the company does not comment on proposed projects at this stage.

But Sullivan said Lowe's representatives have told him they want to have the special use permit approved and the sale completed before the end of the company's fiscal year Jan. 31.

The special use permit will go before the planning commission Jan. 26, he said. And planners from several city departments will meet with Lowe's representatives Jan. 25 for a major project review.

The special use permit application shows the size of the building, how it would sit on the property and how drainage, parking spaces and traffic access would be arranged. The building's exterior appearance is not yet known.

But the city will get a look at the proposed appearance next week when elevation drawings are received, Sullivan said.

The available drawings show a 135,197-square-foot rectangular building backed up to South Roop Street and covering the former Ernst and Sears stores as well as the east end of the existing indoor mall.

A portion of the mall would be demolished, leaving a parking area from the east end of the current Sav-On store to the front of the Lowe's.

The parking lot plan shows that two other buildings, now housing Big Al's Pizza and Ming's Chinese Restaurant, would not be disturbed. The portion of the mall occupied by Sav-On and Office Depot would also remain.

Lowe's plans to have a roofed garden center covering 27,890 square feet at the south end of its building, in roughly the same spot where Ernst and Kmart has had their garden centers.

The Lowe's store would be deeper front to back than the existing building, but the lost parking area would be more than made up for by razing a portion of the mall. The site plan shows Lowe's would increase the number of parking spaces by about 70 spaces to 893.

"It looks like those would be larger spaces than the current ones. It looks like they are 8 by 20 feet," Sullivan said. He said the larger spaces could be planned because the home improvement center could anticipate a lot of customers arriving in pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles.

The site already is zoned for a home improvement store use, he said, but the project requires the special use permit because building materials would be sold and because the building is larger than 50,000 square feet.

The project review pulls together representatives of city departments such as engineering, health, streets and even parks and recreation to review the proposal's compliance with city ordinances and code requirements.

Sullivan said that gives the company's designers specific information to incorporate into the final plans and construction.

Information that Lowe's was given during informal consultation with the city has been incorporated in the drawings Sullivan and his staff have reviewed so far.

"This is fully in compliance with the landscaping and parking layout recommendations we provided," Sullivan said. "Anticipating the elevations and traffic studies will come in the same way, we'll have a fine project."

The applications described the project as Lowe's Home Center. Lowe's recently purchased Eagle Hardware, which has stores in Reno and Sparks. Sullivan said he believes those stores will be renamed to Lowe's within a couple years and the Carson Store will probably be a Lowe's.


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