Archive for Thursday, September 8, 2005

Site work to begin on Carriage Hills Center

Developers look to bring mix of restaurants, retail shops to North Main Street

September 8, 2005

The men developing land near the Holiday Inn Express promise their center housing a mix of retail shops and restaurants will be unlike anything built yet in Lansing.

"Architecturally, I think this is going to be really significant for the community," said Scott Fishman, one of the developers of the Carriage Hills Shopping Center. "For Lansing and for Leavenworth, I think that it will be the most upscale, architecturally most interesting design in the area, bar none."

Fishman, a sales agent with Olathe-based Fishman & Co., and Steve Osman, a developer with ARO Real Estate in Prairie Village, are partners on the shopping center, which will be south and east of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, 120 Express Drive.

The development was announced in March, but the sale of the property wasn't completed until last week. With the paperwork now completed, the developers say they're ready to go with groundwork beginning in the next week or so.

"Technically, we couldn't do anything until we owned it," Osman said. "But now that we do, we're moving forward."

When completed, the center will have five buildings with more than 33,000 square feet of available space. The only official tenant to be secured is Popeye's Chicken, but Fishman and Osman say others will be announced soon.

"We have letters of intent, strong entries of interest, and we are also looking for other tenants that want to be compatible with what we have," Osman said.

The early work will be attracting other restaurants to the center. The developers say they're close to securing a pizza shop, a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese restaurant and an ice cream shop.

"This isn't just going to be a food court, but we have found the way to attract the other tenants and the way to attract traffic is to start with the restaurants," Fishman said. "Restaurants generate lots of traffic. So if you get some big names in here of restaurants that will see 200 to 400 cars a day into their shop, now all of a sudden you become a place where other retailers will want to be next to," he said

The partners hope to move fast as soon as site preparation work is complete.

"We would hope that the buildings can be enclosed before the weather (changes) and that tenants can start moving in and opening in the spring of next year," Osman said.

The two developers say once the center begins to take shape, they hope Lansing residents will take notice.

The $10 million project's buildings, features and landscaping, they say, will give the center an upscale, inviting look.

"It would be a similar type of shopping center that you would see in Overland Park or south Johnson County. : If you took this center and placed it on 119th and Metcalf, it would fit in," Fishman said.

One of the center's features, he said, would be a courtyard with outdoor seating and some sort of a water feature, perhaps a fountain. The center won't scrimp on landscaping, either, he said.

"We're going to put a tremendous amount of emphasis on landscaping," Fishman said. "Landscaping to us is the invitation to come in."

The general contractor for the project is from Kansas City, but Fishman and Osman say they hope to farm out subcontracts to local professionals.

"Although our general contractor is from Kansas City, ARC, we're going to try to utilize as many local subs as possible on this," Osman said.

The city extended several inducements under its Neighborhood Revitalization program to land the center, including up to $583,000 toward costs of site preparation and a 10-year partial abatement of property taxes on the improvements.

The developers praised the city officials with whom they worked, including Mayor Kenneth Bernard, City Administrator Mike Smith and Community Development director John Jacobson.

"I will tell you that Mayor Bernard, Mike Smith, John Jacobson have all been extremely cooperative," Osman said. "They have been professional. They negotiated very well to present a fair package that protected the city as well as being fair and inducive to us to build this project."

Added Fishman, "I probably met Mike Smith well over a year ago, before we found land but were just kind of getting a concept of what we wanted to do in the city of Lansing. From day one, the things that Mike talked to me about, the things that we explored in terms of the city's help, there's never been anything they've said that they didn't mean or didn't come to be."

The developers said they believed once their Carriage Hills Shopping Center was opened, more development would be on the way.

"We've invested a few million dollars on the assumption that we're correct in our analysis that the Lansing-Leavenworth area would like to see something of the quality that Scott and I are going to be developing," Osman said. "If we're right, more will follow. More upscale. Everybody says, 'We want this, we want that.' Well, the way somebody gets them is there has to be the first. We are the first."

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