The economic viability of the Trinity Site “lifestyle center” concept was uncertain when it was developed in 2005-06, long before investment money for such projects dried up.
Two developers, first Boyer and now NADG, have been unable to implement even scaled down versions.
Why should we think a third entity, Kroger/Smith’s, whose interests are much narrower, would make the dream happen?
Our options presently are so limited because generations of councilors, county staffers, and various advisors have refused to even consider developing any alternatives.
Too many have too much personal or political capital invested to admit the old concept is not working. They keep flogging this dead horse instead of exploring options that might serve us better.
Options include pressing Smith’s to develop its Marketplace store on the Mari-Mac land it already owns. That could:
- attractively anchor and revitalize the existing downtown;
- avoid heavy traffic across Trinity Drive;
- make the Trinity Site available for real economic base development for the community and possibly a hotel / conference center; and
- provide much better revenues for the Schools than the pittance they would net under the current deal.
Smith’s, of course, would rather build a plain (i.e., cheap) big box on Trinity Site that takes no advantage of that wonderful setting, add more acres of asphalt to our already abundant downtown inventory, and control much of our retail land for decades.
Whose town is this, anyway: ours or Kroger/Smith’s?
The best action Council could take now would be to reject or table NADG’s requested lease transfer to Kroger/Smith’s and regain control of the destiny of Trinity Site.
We would buy time to think collectively about alternatives and would be in a stronger negotiating position.
At the very least, if we transfer the lease and give Kroger/Smith’s six to eight more months to come back with an even worse deal, we should take advantage of the time to develop alternatives so the headlines then do not read the same.