Home Depot extending lease option

Posted: Monday, June 02, 2003

Kenai will have to wait on Home Depot.

The giant home improvement retail chain expressed interest in moving into the vacant building that used to house Big Kmart, and last month took out a 30-day lease option on the space and visited the site to assess the viability of both the market and the building.

But Home Depot spokesperson John Simley said the organization has yet to make a decision on the building and needs more time.

"What we have determined is that the building is suitable, and we know the demand is there," Simley said. "Now, we need to work out a lot of administrative details to determine how we would serve the Kenai service area ... and that is the entire (Kenai) Peninsula."

Those details, Simley said, include coming up with a store design suitable for the building and establishing construction deals. Primary structural work needed includes reinforcing the concrete floor to support heavier products and raising the roof to accommodate the "high-stack" method the warehouse store uses for storing products.

It would take several months to get the store refitted, filled with inventory and to train the staff, Simley said.

The lease option the company took is scheduled to conclude at the end of this week, but Simley said Friday he expected Home Depot officials would ask the federal bankruptcy court that granted the option for an extension.

"We wouldn't allow something like a time line to torpedo a good deal," he said. "And I'm sure the bankruptcy court doesn't want this deal to fall through, either."

Simley wasn't certain how long Home Depot would need to be ready to close the deal, but he said work toward that goal was proceeding in a positive manner.

"It's enough to say that we don't yet have a final agreement," he said. "We don't yet have a final plan."

Kenai City Manager Linda Snow said she wasn't disappointed with these developments, but said that the company was still moving forward with plans to move into the space was promising.

"They're being cautious and prudent. That's a huge investment," she said. "They're doing a very thorough job, and we want them to be happy here. If they're going to request (an extension) and it's going to be granted, I don't think that is a bad sign."

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