Monterey, Calif., to Get New Retail Project in Old Retail Spot

A long-mothballed Kmart building in Marina has a new owner, to the delight of city officials who hope to see new stores opening next year.

"This is very good news," said Mayor Ila Mettee-McCutchon on Tuesday, a day after escrow closed on the sale of the vacant anchor store in the Marina Landing Shopping Center to a Marin County development firm.

"This developer is anxious to do something with it," Mettee-McCutchon said.

The mayor said representatives of the new owner -- Tallen & Keshen Holdings of Mill Valley -- met Tuesday with city public safety officials to go over new security arrangements for the empty building and parking lot.

Several other potential buyers had sniffed around the building during the past five years, but none of the deals panned out.

"We're obviously delighted," said city Economic Development Coordinator Jane Harder Amick. "I can finally say something that is not wishful thinking.

"These people are hardworking and they understand the situation in Marina," she said. "They are willing to roll up their sleeves."

Representatives of Tallen & Keshen, which bought the old Kmart property from Wachovia Corp., were unavailable. A primary lender to Kmart Corp, Wachovia took over the Marina property after Kmart filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002.

"The purchase is not only a shot in the arm, but it indicates things are alive and well in central Marina," Amick said.

The old Kmart has been empty since 2000, when the seven-year-old store was among 72 Kmarts across the country that the financially ailing retail chain closed.

The 91,000-square-foot store was to be the first phase of the 19.6-acre shopping center approved by Marina voters in 1989 after a divisive community debate. Only the Kmart store and a gas station-convenience store have been built.

With the Kmart building under new owners, the rest of the planned Beach Road center should get a boost, Mettee-McCutchon said.

Earlier this month, Marina planning commissioners changed the 1992 permit for the Kmart building to allow a wide variety of retail uses. The original permit allowed only a Kmart.

Developer Terrence Tallen told planning commissioners the building would be renovated before he seeks new tenants next spring. He said the building likely would be divided into two or three principal stores -- most likely a grocery store, clothing store or sporting-goods outlet -- and smaller shops.

The commission was enthusiastic about the prospects of new stores in the vacant building. At the meeting, commission chairman Bob Drake said the "rotting Kmart is a blight to the whole community."

Monterey County Herald

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