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Farmington Crossing plans being finalized

Months after the Farmington City Council gave final agreement to a Tax Increment Financing plan to help build the 90-plus acre, $83 million Farmington Crossing shopping complex, work is being done to finalize agreements with retailers and complete engineering plans before construction begins.

Scott Haley, project engineer for Koman Properties, Inc., based in Clayton, Mo., spoke Tuesday about the work being done on Farmington Properties. He was in town before Christmas and met with interim Mayor Dr. Jim Bullis and City Administrator Greg Beavers to update them on progress.

&#8220Things are going well … but it’s all behind the scenes stuff,” Haley said. &#8220We’ll be closing on many of the properties in the next 60 to 70 days.”

Part of Haley’s update to city officials recently included conveying information about the process of juggling the demands of future tenants in the large development. He said Koman Properties is well versed in handling such tasks, and it’s simply a process of discovering what each tenant requires and then hammering out agreements that all parties involved can live with.

Initially the plans called for three major tenants, including a major grocer. Haley said Tuesday that the company has been in talks with a potential fourth national tenant, although it’s too early to be offering names.

When completed, the mall will include the large &#8220major” tenants, then several smaller tenants as well as several out lots with freestanding buildings. The Koman spokesman confirmed that some letters of intent have already been agreed upon for out lots as well as tenants needing the smaller spaces.

Farmington Crossing will reach from near Maple Street just west of U.S. 67 north to near Solid Rock Family Church. The development will be marked on the west side by the new outer road, and to the east by U.S. 67.

While Haley couldn’t confirm or deny names at this point, initial plans called for a Target, Home Depot and the major grocery store. There has been much speculation in and around the community of whether or not the grocer would be a Schnucks or Dierbergs. Haley did not discuss who the Farmington Crossing grocer would be, but it is known that Koman Properties, Inc., has partnered several times in recent years with The Desco Group, a real estate division of Schnucks.

Visible work could begin on the project within months. Plans still call for building the center in one phase. Construction will take about four to five years at an estimated $83 million. When completed, as early as 2010, it’s estimated the center will generate $145 million in annual retail sales. Even utilizing a portion of the new sales tax revenue to help fund the construction, the city is still additionally set to receive about $1 million a year in new sales tax revenue. All other taxing entities within the footprint of the shopping mall will also see significant tax revenue increases.

It’s anticipated that building Farmington Crossing will require the work of hundreds of construction workers, with the stores and shops within the center employing about 800 adult and teenage workers when completed.

Farmington Crossing is not part of work being done on property east of U.S. 67 just south of Maple Valley. That work is being done by developer Farmington Retail, L.L.C., on property owned by Gundaker Commercial. Gundaker also owns a small portion of land west of U.S. 67 in the area of Maple Street. A demolition permit was issued by the city recently to allow for the destruction of duplexes sitting on that site.

Information available from signs at the Gundaker property indicates plans to build a mall at the east-side site. Farmington Retail, L.L.C., the apparent developers of that property, filed a lawsuit against the city of Farmington in 2006 allegedly indicating the Tax Increment Financing plan approved for that area provides unfair advantages to the Farmington Crossing project.

Members of the TIF Commission which first developed the plan last year for Gundaker’s development, and then revamped the plan this year to include Farmington Crossing, responding to news of the suit by saying the initial developer was offered the same financing tools provided to Koman Properties, Inc.

Haley said some of the behind the scenes work being done now involves keeping potential tenants of Farmington Crossing up to date on the future of the small Gundaker property located west of U.S. 67 – which was initially included in the Farmington Crossing plan.

&#8220We’ve been very busy, although most of it has not been (visible on the ground) up to this point,” Haley said of the work on the region’s largest shopping center.

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