Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2007

Development plans still uncertain

August 9, 2007

Developers of Lansing Towne Center are continuing negotiations to try to hold onto one of the shopping center's anchor tenants.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard, at last week's City Council meeting, told council members and audience members he wanted to dispel rumors circulating about Lowe's Home Improvement.

"Nothing is firmly signed. Nothing is firmly gone," Bernard said.

His comments spurred a spirited discussion among council members.

Council member Billy Blackwell Jr. asked whether the city was intervening in the negotiations to help broker a deal.

"We've got a lot invested in this," Blackwell said, noting the public's "huge expectations" for Towne Center.

City Administrator Mike Smith said the city was doing what it could but the negotiations were pretty much between the developers and Lowe's. Their disagreement is over the final per-square-foot cost for the Towne Center store.

Several council members were critical of comments made by Jess Davis, one of the partners in the Towne Center development, who said earlier this year a deal with Lowe's was signed and sealed.

"When somebody stands before you and says, 'I've got this,' I expect him to have it," Council member Kenneth Ketchum said.

Asked whether Davis had indeed said developers had a contract with Lowe's, Smith said, "Yes, but there's always a way out."

Smith, however, said he still had confidence in the developers and reminded council members not taxpayer funds will go to developers until stores open and sales taxes begin being collected.

"Will it be Lowe's? A large Hy-Vee? An Office Max? Maybe those will come in. : (but) they don't start getting funds til they're open," he said.

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