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Tue, Oct. 15

Wal-Mart casts sole bid for land near library

Wal-Mart plans to build a superstore on 11.5 acres owned by Mohave County near the existing store and offered the sole bid for the vacant lot during an auction conducted by the county supervisors Monday.

The store could open by March 2005.

"We have all the property necessary to allow us to build the super center," Peter Kanelos, western regional community affairs manager for Wal-Mart, said after the supervisors' meeting.

He said it will take nine months to a year to build the 260,959-square-foot store near the Kingman branch of the county library off Airway Avenue and Via Salinas.

Representing Wal-Mart, Scottsdale commercial real estate broker Douglas Baker offered the market value of $652,500 for the land and will have to pay about $13,528 extra to cover escrow and associated fees.

Baker said after the meeting that Wal-Mart also will buy three small, privately owned parcels, giving it about 25 acres for the store site, and will not need the additional 25.3 acres off Beverly Avenue and Burbank Street that supervisors decided not to put up for auction Monday.

The supervisors voted 2-1 to approve the sale.

Buster Johnson of Lake Havasu City said he voted against the sale because of comments made by Paul Ulan, a Phoenix-based consultant.

Ulan, who works with a union that opposes Wal-Mart's business practices, said afterward that the county sold the property based on an outdated appraisal conducted in November 2001.

"The issue is lost revenue," he said.

Ulan said the appraisal is based on open-space zoning for the land, not on what it would be worth if it were to be rezoned C-3 for major commercial.

Lake Havasu City appraiser Jack McDonald said he based the appraisal on the market value, not the zoning.

He also appraised the 25.3 acres at $2.6 million.

Wal-Mart is based in Bentonville, Ark.

A superstore is a conventional Wal-Mart with the addition of a full-service grocery store.

Kanelos said Wal-Mart plans to move the existing, 98,358-square-feet store, which opened in December 1993.

Wal-Mart also plans to work with its real estate division to find other uses for the existing store, he added.

The shopping center also houses an Albertsons supermarket and smaller retail stores.

"We're confident that the Kingman residents will enjoy our everyday low prices on groceries that they have experienced with our general merchandise for years," Kanelos said.

Kanelos, who is based in San Diego, said Wal-Mart will expand the number of Kingman employees from 230 to about 500 when the superstore opens.

Wal-Mart and other business interests have had designs on the county-owned land.

The county plans to sell the other 25.3-acre parcel at an auction once Combs Construction completes earth fill work at the site.

The supervisors initially heard a proposal in March 2001 from Chuck Chlarson of Desert Golf Development of Kingman to build a family recreation center on 34 acres.

Two months later, the supervisors amended a policy about selling or buying land and instructed County Manager Ron Walker to bring back a recommendation on what to do with the property.

The supervisors voted in April 2002 to sell about 37 acres but did not conduct an auction in June because the decision required a 3-0 vote.

Johnson voted against the auction.

Johnson went along with supervisors Pete Byers and Tom Sockwell by voting Jan.

21 to conduct the auction Monday.

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