What happens to the Roeland Park Walmart store when its lease expires next year is the $700,000 question.
Walmart’s current lease in its Roeland Park location expires on November 30, 2016. Walmart has planned to move that store to the Mission Gateway project and for more than three years has been touted as the anchor store for the Gateway development through both of its most recent iterations.
But with no viable Gateway plan on the table, it becomes increasingly more likely that Walmart could still be in Roeland Park at the end of 2016. Any new plan for the Gateway faces a long approval process before construction could get started.
In the meantime, Roeland Park continues to collect sales tax from the Walmart and the surrounding stores. Walmart and its effect on sales at surrounding businesses is estimated to be worth about $700,000 per year to the city.
Sher Blandford of Kessinger Hunt Real Estate, which represents the property owners where Walmart currently sits, told the Roeland Park City Council Monday “we are walking a fine line.” She said Walmart would need to give six months notice that it was not renewing the lease, which is currently for a five-year period. Walmart still says they are committed to Gateway, she said. Renewing Walmart for a one-year extension would be a “matter of negotiation,” she said.
The company is focused on keeping adjacent smaller tenants on short-term leases to keep the property leased through the end of the year, but not having a small tenant on a lease that could prevent redevelopment. Among the conceptual plans for the site would be leasing to one large retailer, subdividing for smaller retailers or scraping the site and rebuilding, which would likely mean placing the new buildings to front along Roe Avenue.
Blandford said not many tenants generate as much sales tax as Walmart or a grocery store. An extra sales tax currently generates money that can be used in redevelopment. Allowing the property to “go dark” does not work in the interest of the city or the owners, the council was told.