The Prairie Village City Council on Monday night questioned the potential new owners of Corinth Square and The Village Shops about their financial stability and future plans for the shopping centers.
Following assurances regarding Global Retail Investors (GRI) and First Washington Realty, the council voted to move a resolution forward transferring Community Improvement Districts for both shopping centers to First Washington Realty. Voting against the action were Ashley Weaver and Jori Nelson. The council will vote on the resolution Dec. 1.
CIDs were put into effect at both centers in 2010 to collect an additional 1 cent sales tax, providing public funds for the centers’ renovation and maintenance. Prairie Village Shops is located at 71st Street and Mission Road; Corinth is located at 83rd Street and Mission Road.
Joshua Brown, First Washington Realty chief investment officer, said the centers will be purchased as a joint venture between First Washington Realty and the California Public Employee Retirement System through GRI. The group also purchased the Brookside Shopping Center north of 63rd Street this year. GRI owns 93 shopping centers in 22 states.
The city received word of the potential sale of the centers in August. In September, the city’s finance committee recommended hiring Ted Murray, CEO of Colliers International, as a consultant to review the possible new owners.
Murray told the council on Monday night “the buyer possesses more than adequate resources to step into the role.” He said he received no negative feedback regarding the new ownership.
Several council members voiced concerns about the new owners’ plans for the centers. Councilman Eric Mikkelson asked whether retaining or attracting locally owned merchants would be a priority.
“Our goal is to keep the local flavor,” Brown said. He said in-depth analysis would be conducted to determine the strength of existing businesses. He said bringing in national retailers wasn’t their goal and they would strive to help local merchants stay in business.
Councilwoman Jori Nelson asked whether First Realty Washington would consider giving up the CIDs. “You just spent the last half hour telling us how much money you have,” she said. “Would you consider relinquishing the CIDs back to the city?”
Brown said the company would not abandon the CIDs, adding that they had been a consideration in the shopping center negotiations. He said the company plans to invest money in the centers on updates, parking lots and better compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In other action. the council agreed to two modifications to the proposed 75th Street improvement project designed to reduce the project cost by $300,000.
The council approved reducing the amount of pavement repair and changing the repair from concrete to asphalt. Also approved was reducing the asphalt overlay thickness from three inches to two inches. Keith Bredehoeft, public works director, said the two changes would reduce the project cost, but said additional funds for the project would have to come from other projects or sources.
Last month the council voted to direct the Kansas Department of Transportation to reject all bids for the proposed improvement project from State Line to Mission Road after receiving a low bid on the project that was $1.2 million over budget. The Amino Brothers low bid of $3.9 million exceeded the city’s estimate of $2.7 million. The project will be rebid in early 2015.
The project was selected by the MidAmerica Regional Council to receive federal funds. The Kansas department administers federal funds for local communities. The 75th Street project was initiated by the city and will be coordinated through the department.
The council also approved an $80,000 construction contract with K&W Underground Inc. to install a fiber optic connection between City Hall and the public works department to provide more reliable service. The software currently relies on a wireless connection.