Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wal-Mart nears deal on Mission Village locale in Fairfield

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 - 10:59:08 pm PDT

Wal-Mart nears deal on Mission Village locale

By Christine Cubé

FAIRFIELD - The ongoing saga of whether retail giant Wal-Mart will open a new supercenter - or two - in Fairfield and Suisun City has picked up momentum. Wal-Mart's purchase of Mission Village Shopping Center is expected to close July 30, a Wal-Mart spokesman said Wednesday.

The Arkansas-based corporation is in negotiations to buy the beleaguered shopping center from owner Capital and Counties, based in San Francisco. "We have not closed on the Mission Village site yet," said Kevin Loscotoff of Wal-Mart community affairs. "We have it under contract." Loscotoff wouldn't disclose how much Wal-Mart is paying to acquire Mission Village.

A representative with Capital and Counties wouldn't comment on negotiations with Wal-Mart and city officials also wouldn't touch the discussion. "It's a private sale transaction, it's not something that we get involved in," said Dave Feinstein, associate planner with the Department of Planning and Development. "The city is reviewing a proposal to construct a Wal-Mart on that site." The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter would be located at Mission Village on the west side of North Texas Street, between Atlantic Avenue and Hawthorne Drive.

The project involves demolition of most of the existing shopping center, and new construction of a roughly 187,000-square-foot retail building and a 15,000-square-foot outdoor garden center. Suisun City is performing its own study regarding a 71-acre retail center anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter on property located between Highway 12 and Cordelia Road at Pennsylvania Avenue. That proposal is expected to undergo environmental and economic review and a comprehensive public review process. Developers seek to break ground in 2007.

Fairfield business people say the city needs to be straight about what's going on with Wal-Mart. Officials with Hytek Computer Solutions, which has had a monthly lease at Mission Village for the last two years, were notified last month that Wal-Mart is their new landlord. "(The previous owner) came in and said, 'Wal-Mart owns it, sign these papers,' " said Keith Erbert, a technician with the computer upgrade and custom systems retailer. "I knew it was going to be sold, but not necessarily to Wal-Mart. They've been trying to sell this place for years."

Linda Salmon, president of the North Texas Street Business Association, maintains the city didn't keep its end of the bargain to notify the business community. "We have a liaison with the city and I feel that liaison has a responsibility to keep us informed and I don't think it's happened," Salmon said. "I would've liked the land to be sold for another purpose."

Regardless of ownership, Wal-Mart will need an amendment to the city's General Plan before it can begin building anything. That's because the plan requires Mission Village to have a mix of retail, office and housing.

The Fairfield City Council ultimately has the final say on whether Wal-Mart would be able to proceed. The city hired Economic Planning Systems in San Francisco to study the cumulative economic and environmental impacts of having two new Wal-Mart supercenters in Fairfield and Suisun City. A final report is expected in late summer or early fall, Feinstein said.

Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or ccube@dailyrepublic.net. Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

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