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2/27/2003

Kmart tenants still secret

By Patricia Demchak
Times-Call News Group

LOUISVILLE — Property managers are keeping secret the identity of two major retailers that intend to fill the empty hull left behind by Big Kmart’s closure last year.

The companies are in the final stages of negotiating leases for the 91,000-square-foot site on South Boulder Road.

Managers for the property originally hoped to have the leases signed by the end of January, but working out details of the lease agreement have delayed the date, according to Tom Mathews of CB Richard Ellis, the company that manages the building.

The businesses’ identities could be revealed as early as Friday, Mathews said.

In the meantime, not even city officials have been informed who will fill the largest vacant retail spot in the city.

“My understanding is that it should be announced later this week,” City Manager Bill Simmons said.

Despite a high level of interest from the public and the city, Mathews said, the names of the tenants would not be released until the leases are signed.

“The reason it’s a big secret is that we found out that our first tenant interested in the property was not interested anymore through the press,” Mathews said. “The media got very involved as far as wanting to know, and that’s why.”

Mathews continued, “People can speculate and wonder, and that’s what people do best. But our position continues to be firm that we will withhold the names until the leases are signed.”

The retailers signed letters of intent in December to divide the vacant building, with one business occupying about two-thirds of the space.

The pair of new shops could provide a much-needed boost to city sales-tax revenues, which suffered a major setback when Kmart closed.

Prior to closing, the Kmart provided between $200,000 and $300,000 in annual tax revenues to the city.