Details still sketchy as developer, city and residents look at auto mall idea
Some residents and business owners in the vicinity of a proposed auto mall in North Carson City expressed their skepticism Wednesday with the plan and the city’s $27 million incentive package to build it.
“Get soaked twice!” was one man’s suggestion for the new motto of the Carson City Hot Springs resort if the auto mall proposed by the city and a California development company is allowed to be built around it.
A group of about 40 people met with representatives to voice concerns about traffic, lights, effects on local businesses and the city’s involvement.
The fate of the 150-year-old natural hot springs, where miners once came for a therapeutic soak on their way from California to Virginia City, is yet to be decided.
So are many details about Princeton Development’s plan for a 100-acre, $50 million sales center located off the future freeway bypass. The site is located off Hot Springs Road and bordered to the east by Troy Way, to the north by Arrowhead Drive and to the west by a neighborhood off Louise Drive.
Forty-three acres owned by Don and Toni Langson are in the process of being acquired for the future mall. Other parcels the developer is hoping to obtain total 140 acres. They belong to the Carson City Airport, federal government, state and other private parties.
Airport officials have been asked about leasing property, said city consultant Charlie Long, but several business and property owners on the north side of Hot Springs Road said they had not yet been contacted by the developer or the city.
Keith Shellhamer, general manager of the hot springs, said while the owner may be open to offers, he first saw the plan in the newspaper on Wednesday.
Borda Automotive owner Dana Borda said he was contacted by neighbors in the area about the plan and was frustrated by the late notice. Borda and his wife, Susan Borda, bought the property and relocated their 30-year business at the site in 1999. They planned to stay and work for many years, he said.
“They’ve showed no common courtesy to us and they’re going to redevelop us,” Borda said.
The city is proposing to encompass the area into a redevelopment district in order to offer an incentive package to the developer and auto dealers. The plan is to hold on to the dealers in Carson City and attract more, Long said.
“There’s a substantial upside and a protection of loss,” Long said. “Holding on to what we’ve got is a major part of this.”
Existing auto dealers generate about $3.7 million in sales tax revenue for the city per year and make up nearly 20 percent of the city’s total sales-tax income.
In the proposed incentive package, the city would contribute $11.2 million toward public improvements — about $1 million per year — and $4.2 million to relocate auto dealers to the site.
The city has also offered to cap its sales tax revenue from auto sales at the level that exists a year prior to the mall opening. Beyond that, the city would collect only enough to cover inflation and the cost to finance public improvements on the site.
Sales tax revenues above that would go to the auto dealers until the amount reaches $12.1 million.
City supervisors will consider adopting a resolution May 1 that formalizes the outline of the incentive package, Long said.
“The developer would like to have some public expectation that the board will hold up its end,” Long said. The resolution will not be legally binding, however.
Some residents questioned the city’s incentive offer, in light of an estimate it will not see any revenue gain for seven to 20 years from the project.
“Is it economically feasible to even consider this?” asked resident Jim Bentley.
Many of the people who attended a public workshop Wednesday had concerns over traffic, airport safety and lighting.
Steve Taber, chairman of the board for Princeton, and his marketing and planning representatives said they plan to hold workshops before every future major design decision in the project, to incorporate neighborhood concerns.
The North Carson site was the first choice among five sites for the project. The second choice was to build a mall on the land now owned by the Lompa family; however, the family did not want to sell, Long said.
Other sites included land in Southern Carson where an Albertson’s grocery store is located, a piece of land on tribal property off Curry Street, and a stretch of properties along Carson Street in the south. All other sites were not as economically feasible, Long and Taber said.
Many details are still uncertain about the project, Long said. The developer has secured letters of intent, however, from three major dealership owners who own 12 auto franchises in Carson City.
But with design, land acquisition and other details to work out “it’s a project that the developer is proposing to configure and it may not happen,” Long said.
IF YOU GO
Who: Board of Supervisors
When: meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. May 1
Where: Sierra Room, Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.