Stores at old Wal-Mart delayed despite incentives | NevadaAppeal.com
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Stores at old Wal-Mart delayed despite incentives

Dave Frank

Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Adam Reed, left, and Fred Hitchcock, with A.M. Smith Electrical, work Tuesday on the new Burlington Coat Factory in the former Wal-Mart building.
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Two stores in the former Wal-Mart building will open months later than initially predicted despite city incentive deals that were expected to help them open quickly.

Burlington Coat Factory was expected to open this month, but is now scheduled to open in late August. Sportsman’s Warehouse was expected to open around August, but is now scheduled to open in spring 2009.

City Management Services, the Bellevue, Wash.-based building owner, will get $4 million in incentives from Carson City if the stores run successfully.

Company owner Robert Rothe said he had hoped both stores would open when he had initially said they would, but no one made any promises.

Everything will be completed, though, he said, even if it’s finished at the last minute.

Rothe and city officials who supported the incentives said the most important thing about the agreements were that they got the stores to come to the city. The agreements would in turn, supporters said, let Rothe finish his deals with the stores and quickly begin renovation of the building.

“Burlington Coat Factory is now intent on a fast-tracked grand opening in Carson City, March 2008,” an Aug. 7, 2007, report by Economic Development Director Joe McCarthy said. “To achieve this tight deadline, Mr. Rothe must begin by next month his substantial interior remodel and exterior improvements on this blighted empty big box.”

The Burlington grant was approved by city supervisors in August contingent on the store opening by Oct. 30 this year. Work began last month on the project, according to a representative with the building contractor, Metcalf Builders.

A Nov. 6, 2007, report by McCarthy on Sportsman’s Warehouse also points out the need of the incentive to speed up work.

“This incentive award is an inducement to accelerate the signing of a contract with the nationally recognized sporting goods store as soon as possible for an intended opening no later than the fall of 2008,” the report said.

The operating agreement between the city and Rothe also names fall 2008 as the expected opening date of Sportsman’s Warehouse.

The company had named August as an opening date, but delayed it because the company wants to save money and improve other stores, according to Chief Executive Officer Stu Utgaard.

“That’s a good thing to do in this economy, don’t you think?” he said.

The reports and statements given to the board of supervisors do not have any legal consequences, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Joel Benton, because they were not in a contract and were not sworn testimony.

Though the openings have been delayed, McCarthy said, the city was right to approve the incentives because the stores would have not come to the city without them.

He also stressed that Rothe will get none of the incentives if the stores don’t perform – whether it is the $2 million grant for Burlington or $2 million sales tax rebate for Sportsman’s Warehouse.

The Sportsman’s agreement was approved in November and will be paid through sales tax reimbursements over 10 years.

The 120,000 square-foot South Carson City building has been empty since Wal-Mart left in 2002. Max Baer Jr. bought the building in 2003 for $4.5 million to use for his Beverly Hillbillies casino, but sold it to Rothe in May 2007 for $8.5 million.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

On the Web:

See the agreements between Carson City and the landlord for Burlington Coat Factory and Sportsman’s Warehouse online at http://www.nevadaappeal.com.