Archive for Thursday, April 28, 2005

Developer: Big names interested

April 28, 2005, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: April 28, 2005, 10:17 a.m.

A high-ranking official with the new developer of record for Lansing's Towne Center says he's hopeful of securing commitments for the project from some big-name retailers within a month.

Jeff Dozier, vice president/retail development for Kessinger/ Hunter and Co., said he hoped to get contracts signed during the International Council of Shopping Centers spring convention, May 22-25 in Las Vegas.

"There are definitely three or four big names talking with us about Lansing," Dozier said in a telephone interview last week, adding he hoped to seal the deals at the Las Vegas convention.

Dozier said he would not publicly divulge any of the retailers interested in Lansing until receiving the approval of a tenant - "I can't if I want to stay in business," he said. But he insisted the Towne Center project was an attractive location for retailers.

"We're trying to bring a first-class shopping center to Lansing," Dozier said. "I wouldn't be a very good developer if I said we couldn't do it."

He said the same attributes about the Towne Center property that drew Kessinger/ Hunter's interest were the same that should draw the interest of retailers:

¢ Residential growth in the area

¢ Visibility from Kansas Highway 7 - a major north-south thoroughfare

¢ Existing infrastructure, including water, sewer and streets

Under the terms of its agreement with the city, Kessinger/ Hunter is negotiating to purchase the 32-acre Towne Center property from David Christie, an Overland Park developer who has been working on the project the past several years.

Dozier said he was optimistic about the talks, which he termed "not negative at all."

"There's a difference of opinion over value," he said, "but that's the name of the game."

If Kessinger/ Hunter and Christie can't come to an agreement, the city is expected to try to condemn the land. The developer of record agreement calls for Kessinger/ Hunter - not the city - to pay all legal costs involved in a condemnation proceeding, said Mike Smith, city administrator.

Once the property ownership issue is settled, the contract gives Kessinger/ Hunter 180 days to sign up tenants and begin development of the site.

"Six months is the shortest agreement we've ever done," Dozier said. "But going into this, we knew there's been work done ahead of us."

The Las Vegas convention, he said, will give Kessinger/ Hunter a good indication of the road ahead for Towne Center.

"We'll know then if six months is realistic," he said. "If we get the 'don't call us, we'll let you know' line, we'll know and we'll tell the city where we're at."

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