Walmart’s decision to drop out of the Mission Gateway plan and reinvest in its Roeland Park store was hailed Monday as “the most exciting news in years” by that city’s mayor.
“It certainly provides us a whole lot more assurance we won’t be losing that tax money,” said Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt.
A Walmart spokeswoman said the company plans to make a “significant capital investment” in the store at 5150 Roe Ave. Work is expected to begin in early 2017.
“We expect to do a more intensive remodeling not just paint and new fixtures,” said Delia Garcia. “We’ll be modernizing to align with our current branding.”
The store will remain open during construction, Marquardt said.
Walmart has been at its current Roeland Park location for 20 years and is a major source of revenue for the city, responsible for an estimated $700,000 in sales tax each year between it and businesses it influences.
Ever since the possibility of the store relocating to Mission Gateway was raised five years ago, city officials have been preparing for the potential loss to its budget.
The city council in 2013 approved a property tax increase that was intended to compensate for the loss of Walmart revenues. It projected a 35 percent loss of sales tax revenue in 2018 and 40 percent loss in 2019.
Even after Walmart agreed to extend its lease at 5150 Roe another five years last May, officials said they were continuing to operate under the assumption it ultimately would be gone.
Now, Jodi Belpidio, one of the owners of the property where Walmart is located in Roeland Park, believes the door may be open again to pitch the retail giant on expanding at the site.
“We have over the years offered to allow them to expand, but there’s been so much movement in Walmart real estate it never went anywhere,” Belpidio said. “Hopefully it might be considered now.
“They needed to take Gateway as far as they could before they could reach out to us.”
The property controlled by Belpidio and her partners where Walmart is located also includes a CVS pharmacy, a retail strip mall and a Taco Bell.
Garcia said the current 112,000 square-foot store in Roeland Park limits what her firm can do with the space, including expanding its grocery offerings. The store proposed for Mission Gateway would have been 155,000 square-feet.
“The Roeland Park store will continue to be a Walmart discount store and not the super store as planned for Mission,” she said.
As for prospects for another super store location, Garcia responded, “we’re always looking for opportunities to better serve our customers.”
Belpidio described the news of Walmart remaining as good for Roeland Park and Mission. Tom Valenti, the Mission Gateway developer, said his firm is searching for potentially three retailers to occupy the space that had been set aside for Walmart.
“It’s awesome,” Belpidio said. “We’d love to see them spruce up the place and reinvest, it’s been neglected while they were trying to figure out Gateway. This is good for everyone.”