Lowe’s land sale gets OK from city of Kenai

Wal-Mart nearing agreement to purchase 37 acres

Posted: Sunday, December 10, 2006

One of two big retailers coming to Kenai has cleared all the paper hurdles and soon is expected to begin clearing its land.

Kenai City Manager Rick Koch told members of the city council last week he has signed the sales agreement with Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers for the purchase of 14.784 acres in the Baron Park Subdivision along Marathon Road.

The council authorized the $1,650,000 sale early in November.

Lowe’s plans to build a 139,000-square-foot store and be open for business by Thanksgiving Day next year. The store would also have a 32,000-square-foot garden center.

Proceeds from the sale are to be placed in the Kenai Airport Land Sale Permanent Fund. Interest income from money placed in the fund may be used to support Kenai Municipal Airport operations.

Also Wednesday, Koch told the council the city is “down to one single issue” in negotiating a similar property sales agreement with Wal-Mart. He did not elaborate.

At its Oct. 17 meeting, the council approved extending Wal-Mart’s lease of 37 acres behind the Kenai Chrysler Center for an additional six months. The original 12-month lease was to expire Oct. 28.

Lounsbury and Associates Inc., the Anchorage engineering firm overseeing the Wal-Mart development, had reported that its client was awaiting a jurisdictional determination from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a wetlands issue.

The Corps is reviewing a mitigation plan for 1 1/2 acres of the property along the eastern boundary that were identified as potential wetlands.

In a letter to the city, Lounsbury said the Army permitting process “requires that Wal-Mart identify the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative.”

If the city approved the lease extension — which it has since done — Lounsbury would submit the permit application for agency approval.

Wal-Mart plans to build a 235,000-square-foot combination grocery and general merchandise store accessible from Marathon Road and the Kenai Spur Highway.

The approximate location of the Spur access would be the existing dirt road that parallels the “dust bowl” baseball diamond into the city’s tent campground.

The proposed Wal-Mart super center would include general merchandise, groceries, a garden center, a six-bay tire and lube express shop and a gas station. The complex also would include six “out-lot parcels” for other businesses. Wal-Mart would manage the parcels.

Parking space for 1,129 standard-size vehicles is included, along with 29 handicap-accessible parking spaces, 26 spaces for recreational vehicle parking and 20 spaces for shopping cart corrals.

City officials have said a store that size could bring 200 jobs to Kenai as well as $1 million a year in tax receipts. Once construction begins, it is expected to take 18 months.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@ peninsulaclarion.com.

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