In Carson: City, owners still looking for tenant to fill old Kmart spot
It’s been the largest empty building in Carson City for four years and no businesses have promised to move in. Both the city and the owners of the former Kmart building say they want that to change, but Carson is out of up-front incentive money and the owners have a 169,000-square-foot space to fill.
Both say it’s a challenge.
The windows of the North Town Plaza building on the corner of North Carson Street and College Parkway are boarded up and the gates are chained shut.
“We’d like to bring a dead building back to life,” Mayor Marv Teixeira said.
“We’d like to get that being a highlight … and not a black hole,” City Supervisor Robin Williamson said.
Cypress Equities, a Dallas company, and Equity Group, of Las Vegas, bought the building for $6.7 million about a year ago.
Dave Cheatham, a manager with Cypress, said the company was looking at a few tenants when it bought the building and is looking at a few now.
“You don’t buy something to sit empty,” he said. “You buy something to get it done.”
But the building also is a long-term investment, he said, and the companies have many possibilities. He said a lot of businesses that come to the north end of Carson City go to the Wal-Mart shopping center east of the store off College Parkway.
While the building is part of the city’s redevelopment area and can get money from a fund raised from a portion of redevelopment area businesses’ property taxes, the city has almost nothing in its redevelopment budget. It had to borrow the $2 million from the general fund it gave to the owner of the old 120,000-square-foot Wal-Mart building to help bring in Burlington Coat Factory, which is scheduled to open in March.
“I don’t know where in the hell the money would come from,” Teixeira said, referring to an up-front incentive for the old Kmart building.
The best thing to do would probably be to have a sales tax rebate program, City Manager Linda Ritter said. If the tenant raised a certain amount of sales taxes, the owner of the building would be given back a portion of that sales tax.
That way, she said, “if they’re successful, we’re successful. And if they’re not, we don’t lose anything.”
This is the type of incentive the city gave to the owner of the old Wal-Mart to bring in Sportsman’s Warehouse, which is scheduled to open in August. Dick Campagni got a similar incentive in 2005 to buy six acres on South Carson Street to build a new Toyota dealership and to keep his four auto dealerships in Carson for at least 15 years.
A large empty building is a danger a city has to deal with when a large box store comes in, said Ronni Hannaman, director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. Sales taxes are important to the city, however, and retail stores are important to that, she said.
But a lack of a tenant at the old Kmart building doesn’t mean business is bad on the north end of Carson, said Ron Weisinger, director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority. The Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center and Western Nevada College are just two things that make it a “hot area,” he said.
However the city gets a tenant in there, though, Teixeira said, it should be the city’s top business priority.