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COLUMBUS – Some changes are in store for the former Walmart building located on a 12.2-acre tract on the west side of Columbus that has been vacant for much of the past decade since the giant retailer moved out in the spring of 2005.

Lincoln-based WHO Development has proposed a more than $25 million redevelopment plan for the site that would include commercial, residential and civic buildings, and associated improvements.

On Monday, the Planning Commission approved an amended a previous redevelopment plan that serves as city guide for meeting proposed land uses and building requirements at the site in the 3600 block of West 23rd Street targeted toward reinvigorating blighted and rundown areas.

The Columbus City Council will consider the plan proposal at its meeting April 2.

A spokesman for the local ownership of the site, valued at $2.87 million in 2017 by the Platte County Assessor’s Office, said the sale of property is expected to close in April.

“I expect the first phases of the project to get started very soon (after the sale closing),” said City Administrator Tara Vasicek following Monday’s meeting.

“It’s great for the west side and hopefully there will be more (redevelopment),” she said.

The proposed redevelopment plan calls for both private improvements and public improvements.

The plan will require the demolishing of a portion of the former Wal-Mart building and a repurposing of the rest of the structure.

Projections call for the project to consist of multiple phases including a 75-85 room hotel, an approximately 3,000 square-foot commercial space to serve as a bank or other service business, a 55,000 square-foot commercial building, multifamily residential buildings and 40-80 apartment units, an 8,000 square-foot restaurant, office space and a more than 38,000 square-foot indoor storage facility.

Public improvements will capture tax increment financing to help pay for eligible expenses to include site acquisition, demolition of the existing building, site preparation, utilities, street infrastructure, landscaping and public parking.

The currently identified eligible public expenses for the redevelopment have a preliminary price tag of $3.2 million. The plan proposal stressed the figures were projections and final costs would be determined by the council’s OK of a final plan and the receiving of bids for work.

TIF is a funding mechanism commonly used by cities to spark development in substandard areas.

A city can issue bonds to pay for certain portions of a project’s costs, with that money repaid over a period of up to 15 years using the increased property taxes on the improved area.

In Columbus, TIF was used as an economic carrot for Hobby Lobby, Slumberland, Ramada-Columbus, Hy-Vee and the Village Centre strip mall.



Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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