Store manager Steve Schoenberger said Monday that the store and its 150 or so employees are being relocated to the new building, currently under construction in the southeast corner of Legends.
Both Mayor Geno Martini and Sparks City Councilman Ron Smith, whose ward includes Legends, learned of the store’s closure Monday.
“I wish they wouldn’t but it’s a business decision they have to make,” Smith said.
“It’s going to hurt,” Martini said. “There’s empty space everywhere you go in this town.”
The retail relocation isn’t the first Sparks has experienced regarding the Legends shopping development. The Target store on Prater Way closed in 2009 in favor of a new building at the northeast corner of Legends to take advantage of Sales Tax Anticipated Revenue (STAR) bond financing. The location is still vacant.
Legends General Manager Dennis McGovern said Monday that Lowe’s is receiving no STAR bond subsidies.
“People assume every store on the property gets to pull from that pool,” McGovern said. “That is not the case.”
STAR bonds, created by the Nevada Legislature in 2005, allow for unique tax and tourism districts where retail businesses that show they can draw out-of-towners are eligible to receive tens of millions of dollars in front-ended public subsidies to support their development costs. Seventy-five percent of generated sales taxes are then directed toward repaying bonds.
“Certainly the vision we have for the center is as a destination, of which tourism is a significant piece of the puzzle,” McGovern said about the presence of non-tourist stores such as Lowe’s. “However, we can’t turn our back on the 400,000 people in our primary market who live, eat and shop here every day.”
McGovern said Lowe’s bought property for a new building at Legends in 2009. The new, 124,076 square-foot store should open between Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, 2012, he added. Schoenberger said the new store will be about the same size as the Oddie Boulevard location but with many modern upgrades.
As for tourist-targeted development at Legends, Smith said the idea for a casino there is still alive and that construction should pick up at Legends in the next few months.
“I’m thinking there will be a whole bunch of new activity in the next couple of months,” he said, citing work on the IMAX theater, Discount Tire and TJ Maxx stores.
Smith said the council got “a bunch of heat” regarding the relocation of Target to the Legends area because of its perception as not being a draw for tourists, the selling point for the entire Legends development. Smith said the standard to qualify for STAR bond financing is for the location to draw 51 percent of its business from tourism.
Both Smith and Martini acknowledged that the Lowe’s and Target developments there are not in line with the original intent but that they’d rather see those types of stores going in than none.
“With the economy and the way things are going, I’m glad we got anything going at all,” Martini said.
“We need to hold everybody accountable to get more tourism-based things,” Smith said. “The casino would do that.”