Saturday, March 29, 2003

Wal-Mart to anchor center in Ft. Wright

Summer target for construction

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT WRIGHT - By this time next year, a Wal-Mart SuperCenter is expected to open at a high profile intersection here.

The 183,917-square-foot Wal-Mart will anchor a mix of retail and service uses on a site at Highland Pike, Orphanage Road and Ky. 17, the developer said.

"Construction will probably start by summer," said David Birdsall, vice president of investments for Regency Centers of the Midwest. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company has developed or purchased about 270 grocery-anchored shopping centers including eight in the Tristate.

Other Tristate Wal-Mart SuperCenters, which sell everything from groceries and garden supplies to automotive services, are in Lawrenceburg., Ind. and Dry Ridge.

Regency Centers originally announced the Wal-Mart would open by Dec. 1 of this year. However, that opening was pushed back a few months to avoid opening the store during Wal-Mart's busiest quarter.

This week, Regency Centers announced that it had purchased 37.3 acres from B&Z Development of Fort Wright. Regency Centers sold part of that property to Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust for the development of a Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

The remaining property includes six outlots now being marketed. By mid-summer, Regency Centers expects to announce some of the businesses that will build on the surrounding lots, Birdsall said.

"Before any of the businesses open, we want to get the road improvements done," he said.

The developer and state highway department are spending nearly $3 million on road improvements that include widening state routes surrounding the project and adding extra turn lanes, Birdsall said. Those improvements should be done by October.

Representatives of The Bank of Kentucky have confirmed that they plan to open a branch on the Highland Pike side of the development. Birdsall would not confirm or deny reports that the Texas Roadhouse and Ruby Tuesday's restaurant chains also have expressed interest in the site.

"I would expect that the outlots and the retail portion would develop faster than the Wal-Mart," Birdsall said. "It'll be a great mix of some nationally-known restaurants and financial institutions."

Regency Centers plans to put a landscaped flag plaza and an 18,650-square-foot retail strip building at the corner of Ky. 17 and Highland Pike. It would include possible uses such as a jeweler, hair stylists, restaurants, and a video store or a pet chain, Birdsall said.

On March 7, Fort Wright officials approved the stage 2 plan for the Wal-Mart SuperCenter, which includes the design, signage, paint and brick colors, landscaping and parking lot plans, City Administrator Larry Klein said. A formal presentation on the project will be made at the April 9 Fort Wright City Council meeting.


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