Kmart site redevelopment/The bigger picture:
Last summer, as Great Clips jumped from the small strip center shared with Little Caesar’s and Fastenal to neighboring Etowah Crossing, the buzz wasn’t coming from the ample supply of hair clippers in the shop. The buzz grew louder when the pizza shop closed (with eventual plans to build on Turner McCall on the site of a current drive-up car wash).
That buzz was an impending Target or Academy Sports were coming to the site abandoned by Kmart in August 2016. But then the script changed to include Old Navy and Five Below (an upper-class dollar-type store). Each scenario included some sort of restaurant combination — and hints of a Bed, Bath & Beyond. Each retailer — contacted by Hometown Headlines — either said there were no immediate plans here or else declined comment.
On Monday, we didn’t learn the names of any would-be tenants but the city of Rome’s Redevelopment Committee heard plans for a large-scale redo of the more than 15 acres that take in the former Kmart site, the small strip center that previously housed Great Clips and Little Caesar’s as well as the Kmart Express convenience store.
Ledbetter Properties, which was said to be in the hunt for the acreage off Turner McCall and Hicks Drive — near one of its previous retail centers — has plans for the site. Here’s what WRGA is reporting from Monday’s meeting:
“City Manager Sammy Rich says the developers are looking at demolishing the Kmart and adding 108,000 square feet of new space. ‘That would include some new retailers and restaurants to the Rome market,’ Rich said. ‘The exciting thing is they are talking to tenants who have yet to be in our market.’ ”
“Rich added that there could be Tax Allocation District funding for the project. ‘The Redevelopment Committee agreed that this would be the ideal scenario to have a TAD for this project,’ he added. ‘So, we are going to endeavor to move forward and create a redevelopment plan and ultimately that will lead to the Ledbetters having the ability to come in and ask for TAD funding.’ ” (Please click for the expanded WRGA story)
A rendering posted on the Rome News shows two “pods” of retail with restaurants scattered about the project as well. The rendering is by Buckel Design Group, which was instrumental in the development of Main Street Marketplace off Main Street near I-75 in Cartersville, Ledbetter Properties’ latest retail center.
A look at retailers already associated with Ledbetter — in Cartersville and at other sites owned by the Rome developers — shows some connections to companies not yet in this market (PetSmart, etc).
That was the case nearly a decade ago as Ledbetter Properties unveiled CityCenter, planned across Riverside Parkway from its Riverwalk development (Olive Garden, Shane’s, Starbucks). CityCenter, according to the original rendering, was to include Hobby Lobby, ALDI, a Marriott branded hotel, Best Buy and other retailers. But as negotiations and environmental questions continued, some of those options settled on other sites in Rome or else put the market on hold.
A year ago December, Ledbetter Properties agreed to donate nearly 80 acres back to the city of Rome as green space in exchange for abatement of Riverside Parkway Partners’ ad valorum taxes. The commission unanimously voted yes. CityCenter was dead — but now Ledbetter has plans for new development here.
So now the Kmart site will move to the next phase — the widely expected TAD designation to accompany an expected development district and demolition work.
The next question will be what does the Ledbetter project mean to plans to bolster mostly outparcels and a reshape Mount Berry Mall that still lacks a county vote on TAD funds. The mall area plans off Martha Berry in Armuchee also feature restaurants, retail — and housing.
At issue: Are there enough retail and restaurant options interested in Greater Rome and, if so, do they want Turner McCall or Martha Berry traffic patterns?