New details released on mall development; $25 million project to be completed by 2022

By Adam Rollins, Record Staff Writer
Posted 11/7/19

The developer rehabilitating the outlet mall in Warrenton will aim to have 125,000 square feet of commercial space leased or sold by July 2018, according to a newly available document. A …

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New details released on mall development; $25 million project to be completed by 2022

The developer rehabilitating the outlet mall in Warrenton will aim to have 125,000 square feet of commercial space leased or sold by July 2018, according to a newly available document.A redevelopment agreement between RAK Development and the city of Warrenton, recently made available to the public, details the objectives, time table and basic budget of the mall project.The agreement divides redevelopment of the defunct outlet mall in western Warrenton into two main parts: the Center Phase and the Major Anchor Phase. During the Center Phase, RAK Development will renovate, rehabilitate and/or expand the existing mall complex and forge agreements with businesses to set up shop there. After the July 2018 leasing milestone, the entire phase of work will be complete by 2020, according to the agreement.The Major Anchor Phase requires the developer to have a lease or land sale contract for large, newly constructed retail space by 2019, and finish construction by 2022. The agreement doesn’t specify a particular name or type of store — it could be anything from hardware to grocery. Officials are hoping for a big name store that will draw many customers, as well as other retailers, to the mall.The stipulation on what qualifies as a major anchor is that a newly constructed building or buildings must be at least 45,000 square feet for one or two retail tenants. The developer can also demolish and reconstruct up to 40,000 square feet of existing buildings at the mall for this purpose, although Art King of RAK Development has given no indication he intends to do so.Work in progressWork already has begun to make the mall a more appealing space for retailers and customers, King said. This week and next crews are power washing the building, trimming foliage, doing basic roof repairs and painting rails, trash cans, light poles and parking stripes.“We’re replacing all the light bulbs in the shopping center with LED,” King added. “When we paint the light poles, we will take the (decorative) globes off them and clean them inside and out.”Sometime between this fall and next, King said crews will take on the task of repainting the whole shopping center and replacing much of its roof. That work might be done closer to when a new Interstate 70 interchange is open to the public, he said.Several businesses have already signed leases to open at the mall, including Leftovers Furniture and Mattress, which is holding a grand opening ceremony Friday, April 14, at 10:30 a.m.RAK Development is in the process of seeking more tenants, but it is possible interested businesses might not act until they see work begin on the I-70 interchange. Better access from the interstate is a major selling point for retailers.In the quest to fill the mall with new stores, some types of businesses will be intentionally excluded. Uses that will not be permitted include adult entertainment, bars or taverns, liquor stores (except large wineries), pawnshops, payday loan providers and thrift stores, according to the redevelopment agreement.“We just don’t feel like those are the kinds of things that fit well within a retail center,” said Warrenton Director of Operations Terri Thorn. “There may be other places in town where those fit, but not in a retail center for shopping purposes.”Thorn clarified that the exclusion of bars doesn’t apply to restaurants that have bars in them; it only applies to establishments that have alcohol service as their primary purpose.There is also a limit on non-retail services such as medical offices and banks, which can only make up 25 percent of the leasable space.“The purpose is to generate retail, which is what funds the city and what funds the TIF (tax increment financing),” Thorn said, referring to how some redevelopment costs will be reimbursed through sales tax revenue.“We don’t want a situation where they put in a lot of service-type offices ... because they don’t generate any retail, which doesn’t help pay for the improvements out there.”Paying for improvementsEarlier this year, Warrenton’s board of aldermen approved the use of TIF to help pay for development costs in and around the area of the mall and the planned I-70 interchange. TIF is a tool that allows the city to reimburse the cost of rehabilitating the mall using new sales taxes from the mall itself.The city has agreed to reimburse a maximum of $6 million in TIF funding to RAK Development, which can be paid out over several years. Only new tax revenue specifically from the mall area can be used for the reimbursement.RAK Development likely will take advantage of the entire $6 million reimbursement, considering its predicted budget for the project is more than $25 million.Several major requirements must be met to get the full reimbursement. RAK Development must acquire lots for future development to the east and west of the mall property, with $1 million in TIF funds at stake for each. $2 million more is attached to the developer successfully completing the Major Anchor Phase by 2022.The total redevelopment budget includes $19 million for construction and rehabilitation and about $5 million for land acquisition and any necessary relocation of existing businesses. Also in the budget is $1 million for professional fees and “soft costs,” which developer Art King said might include engineering, architecture, legal fees and other expenses.To collect reimbursement for redevelopment costs, RAK Development must submit adequate documentation to be approved by the city, Thorn said. Those costs could include acquiring the deed to the mall property earlier this month.

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