Los Alamos County Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher. Courtesy Photo
By Greg Kendall
Post: What are your thoughts on the Trinity Site lease transfer to Kroger?
Fisher: “I think that it’s very hopeful that Smiths and Kroger have such a positive outlook and I think the opportunities exist. The shopping center industry has been in a tough place and folks coming into a new place like Los Alamos don’t quite have the same opportunity to see how successful they can be than those who have been here. When you look at Smiths, and they operate here, they are very successful here and they see that and it’s a good thing they have a development capability. So we are very optimistic. It really took several months, just from one shopping center conference, to start getting interest. We also can’t, as a market that’s somewhat small and somewhat new to the national chains, we can’t be more expensive or outlandishly different than other small markets. We have to humble ourselves to be able to attract those stores that we want. The other piece is we’ve got a lot of regional opportunities we’ve got to attack. There is no national chain that does ski repair and bicycles. Those guys come from your local neighborhoods, so we need to find somebody that will do that. That’s a perfect match for Los Alamos, and you know those things take time.“
Post: What is your understanding of why NADG pulled out?
Fisher: “I think they had opportunity to look at the due diligence. I frankly think that nationally they have had issues and other shopping center developers have had issues. I believe they (NADG) have kind of been a middleman and this is an opportunity for Kroger to go direct and make things happen. I also think it’s been a tough few years for shopping centers.“
Post: There were previous layout proposals from NADG. Will Kroger adopt the same plan as NADG?
Fisher: “There’s kind of a layout. I think the contract is the main thing – that they stick to the contract. They’ve given us a preliminary plan that’s gorgeous for the store. Anybody that’s coming in and building 100,000+ square feet of brand new store with hot line, cold line and a Starbucks, that kind of stuff, they’re going to attract a lot of others. We’re hoping that it continues to look like a village oriented design and a more pedestrian focus.”
Post: Kroger is requesting a “reset” of the development clock. If they are taking over the existing contract, why would they get more time?
Fisher: “This is a whole new team. The team that was there in the interim, you know they had their toe in the water and they jumped out of the pool. Kroger is going to go in and do it. I don’t have any doubt that they will. We’ve got millions of dollars in incentives for downtown redevelopment right now, too, so we are going to leverage as much as we can off that momentum. It won’t happen right away. We’re not going to see a lot of building for another 12 months or so, but once things start – then we hope to get a snowball. Part of it is keeping it all together, making it very pedestrian focused. At some point we are addressing Trinity Drive and how we can get it designed so it’s easy to cross, and things like that, knowing that you can move cars and cross the street.”
Editor’s note: The Los Alamos County Council has scheduled a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24 in Council Chambers at 20th Street and Central Avenue to consider approval of assignment and assumption, consent, and lease modification aggreement related to the Trinity Site real estate ground lease and development agreement from “NA Los Alamos Trinity, LP” to “Topvalco, Inc” a Kroger related entity. The meeting is open to the public.