Planners want Kohl’s in west PTC but store likely lost to Coweta
The proposed Line Creek shopping center on Ga. Highway 54 West at Planterra Way might get a big box store after all.
Some of the city’s planning commissioners are hoping they can lure Kohl’s Department Store away from the Fischer Crossing development just a short distance away in Coweta County.
However, Kohl’s has already signed a letter of intent to locate at Fischer Crossing and ground on the site is to be broken in a matter of weeks. Plus the company is already seeking its development permits from Coweta County, according to Fischer Crossing developer Scott Seymour.
One of the big advantages of Kohl’s is its track record of never closing any of its stores, city officials said.
“In my retail background, Kohl’s is probably one of the best retailers I’ve ever dealt with,” city Economic Development Director Joey Grisham said at Monday night’s meeting of the Peachtree City Planning Commission.
Trinity Development unveiled a new plan for the Line Creek shopping center that would have one 65,000 square foot retail store with two smaller “junior box” stores and a row of shops with two separate retail buildings.
Until now, Trinity’s plan involved four “junior box” retail stores ranging from 20,000 to 28,000 square feet each on the 14.3 acre site.
While Trinity officials did not bring up the specter of luring Kohl’s to the site, Grisham said it could be possible, but he was unsure of the likelihood. It’s also possible that a sporting goods company might want to locate here, Grisham added.
At the same time, Kohl’s has already tried unsuccessfully to locate in Peachtree City as the development plan for that shopping center, on the same site, was turned down by the city, Grisham noted. So the company may not want to revisit a location in Peachtree City, he added.
Kohl’s or no Kohl’s, Grisham said the larger store with two “junior” stores would be preferable than just four junior stores, at least from an economic development standpoint.
Some examples of “junior” stores are Staples, Office Depot, T.J. Maxx, Grisham said.
“The best retail developments are those anchored by a larger anchor,” Grisham said. “I’m not saying we can’t do a good junior development ... but most of your retailers are going to want to be in close proximity to that anchor because they can feed off of that.”
Planning Commissioner Patrick Staples said one of his concerns would be the potential of attracting an unwanted retailer to the larger store that might not meet “that economic sustainability factor that a Kohl’s or some other unknown entity does.”
Commissioner David Conner said he had a similar concern, wondering if the city wouldn’t end up with a Big Lots instead.
Grisham noted that Big Lots usually ends up in second-generation stores that used to be grocery stores, and they are in the neighborhood of 30,000 square feet.
“Old grocery stores is their mantra,” Grisham said.
Commissioner Lynda Wojcik said the key to the development will be making sure it looks good no matter the ultimate tenants there.
The new plan with the larger store was urged by “citizens, the development community and specifically the development department in the city that there is a lot of strength in a larger anchor store with junior anchors,” said Trinity representative Jim Lowe.
The catch is that with the 65,000-square-foot building, Trinity will need a special use permit from the City Council. And accomplishing that in the remaining 90-day window Trinity has could be challenging.
But there was a glimmer of hope from Councilman Eric Imker, who said he supported the concept and that he thought at least two other council members might support it as well. Imker added that he did not want to sway the commission’s decision one way or another.
Just in case council balks, Trinity will have a “plan B” that includes no large box store and remains under 150,000 square feet, the trigger requiring a special use permit.
Trinity was asked if the entire grade of the site could be lowered to help improve the view from the adjacent homes in the Cardiff Park subdivision. The answer was yes, but doing so would require the city to deed all of Line Creek Parkway and not just the stub-out Line Creek Court.
Commissioner David Conner said he really wants the development to include room for an interparcel access road that would run parallel to Ga. Highway 54. That road would connect to the nearby Shoppes at the Village Piazza shopping center and also could link to Planterra Way, Conner said.
If it linked to Planterra, it could be extended in the future to Huddleston Road, an area that the city has long eyed for potential future redevelopment.
But there will be some significant push-back from Planterra Ridge residents if such a road were to be proposed to connect to Planterra Way, said local resident Caren Russell.
Another stumbling block for that access road is a deed restriction on the adjacent property, part of the Line Creek Nature Center, that Pathway Communities has so far been unwilling to relent upon.