The lights may be coming back on again at part of the long vacant Benchmark home furniture complex in Olathe.
Furniture Mall of Kansas, which has stores in Topeka and Lawrence, has a contract to buy a 161,000-square-foot building that makes up part of the former Benchmark showroom and distribution facility at 2125 E. Kansas City Road.
A partnership led by the Winter family, which owns the Furniture Mall, is seeking $9.3 million in industrial revenue bonds from Olathe to help finance the project. The Olathe store, located on the north section of the property, would have about 155 employees, according to its bond application.
The Olathe City Council is scheduled to review the project at its Aug. 5 meeting. The bonds would be issued to cover purchase and remodeling costs, according to the application.
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Jamie Winter, co-owner of the Furniture Mall, declined to comment because the acquisition has not been completed.
The Winter family has been in the furniture business since the early 1930s, according to the company’s website. Its first home was a dairy barn outside of Emporia that became Winter Furniture. The store later moved into the city of Emporia.
Benchmark at one time was among the nation’s largest furniture stores. But the company went out of business about eight years ago, in part, because of competition from the Nebraska Furniture Mart megastore that had opened near the Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County.
The former Benchmart complex consists of three buildings. One was sold in 2006. NorthPoint Development, based in Riverside, purchased the two other buildings early this year — the north building and a vacant 240,000-square-foot former furniture showroom building on the south side of the property.
That south building is also for sale. NorthPoint chief executive Nathaniel Hagedorn said his firm is spending several million dollars to renovate the building with the goal of finding a buyer by the end of this year.
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