The owner of the old Wal-Mart building could be getting millions of dollars in sales tax rebates to remodel the site for a national sporting goods store.
Carson City supervisors didn't approve any money at their Thursday meeting, but told the owner of the site, Robert Rothe, and Joe McCarthy, the city's economic manager, to negotiate an agreement.
The Board of Supervisors approved $2 million in August for Rothe's company, City Management Service, so it could make improvements to the South Carson Street building. Rothe and McCarthy said the company needs the money to bring in Burlington Coat Factory, which will take up about two-thirds of the 120,000 square-foot building.
The new plan McCarthy proposed would give the company $2.5 million in rebates over 10 years if it does bring in the sporting goods store.
Under both plans, supporters of the $4.5 million in subsidies say the city will make back the money through sales taxes collected from the stores.
The Southgate shopping center building, with the exception of a few short-lived stores, has been empty since Wal-Mart left in 2002.
Despite approving negotiations, supervisors disagreed over how to bring in the new store.
The city should aggressively pursue the store, said Robin Williamson, adding that the lack of people who came to the meeting to oppose the idea showed that residents agreed with her.
The city needs a "hell of a good deal," though, said Mayor Marv Teixeira, who received many calls and e-mails from residents saying they don't support giving more money to the company.
Still, he said, "We've looked at that toilet called Wal-Mart for five years and we need to get it spiffed up and creating some revenue."
A large, empty building hurts the city, said Pete Livermore, so the supervisors need to think about investing what they can.
Richard Staub, who said he reluctantly supported negotiations, criticized the plan most strongly of all the supervisors.
"This is just huge, and it's just too much," he said. "It's too much for my blood."
Besides the amount of money spent, he said, it will hurt the city when it has to negotiate with auto dealerships, which is where the city gets one-third of its sales taxes.
For instance, Michael Hohl, who has four dealerships and two RV centers in Northern Nevada, hasn't said where he'll build his next dealerships, and his stores make up half of the sales taxes from dealerships in the city.
Bringing in the sporting goods store would help supplement the city's declining auto sales, though, McCarthy said, and the store would bring in more money than the business that would go in it's place, probably a bulk discount store.
McCarthy added that if the city turns down giving more money to the store, it turns down the store itself.
"You take our incentives ou,t and (the store) is not doing business in Carson City," he said.
But if supervisors follow McCarthy's suggestions, Staub said, the city would be paying for a quarter of the $16 million project, and he said he won't support "those kind of numbers."
Burlington Coat Factory is still scheduled to open in February, according to Rothe, who has said he would open both stores without city money if he could.
The owner bought the building in May for $8.5 million from Max Baer Jr. The former TV star had planned to use it as the site for his Beverly Hillbillies casino, which he now plans to build in Douglas County.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
Also at the Board of Supervisors meeting:
• Supervisors froze noncritical hires, excluding police and firefighters, for 120 days. Supervisors said they don't know who this will affect because they still have to define what "critical" means at their next meeting. Mayor Marv Teixeira, who proposed the freeze, said the city needs to do this because of a drop in tax revenue. It's better than hiring employees now and being forced to fire them in a few months, he said.
• New stores that sell adult merchandise will now have to limit those items to 5 percent to 10 percent or 200 feet of the store, whatever is less. A moratorium on businesses that sell adult merchandise runs through next month. If a store wants to sell more adult merchandise than the regulations allow, it has to seek a special license and be in a certain zone. The three Carson City stores that sell such items are already compliant, officials said.
• A new wine shop, Bella Fiore Wines, got its liquor license. Owner Chad Scott Mena said the store will open in December at 2310 S. Carson St. The store will sell hundreds of wines, provide outdoor seating and "bring Napa to Carson," Mena said.
• Supervisors delayed approving a new job description for the city manager that "addresses a code of professional conduct" until the next meeting.
Copies of agendas and supplemental materials are available at www.carson-city.nv.us. Go to the Board of Supervisors link under the City Government tab.