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Thu, April 25

Golden Valley grocery store remains a tough sell
Even so, push continues for rural community

Bennett Bratley, left, Mohave County economic development director, talks with Melissa Palmer about bringing a grocery store to Golden Valley at a community meeting Tuesday evening. A standing-room only crowd of more than 60 Golden Valley residents attended the meeting. (HUBBLE RAY SMITH/Miner)

Bennett Bratley, left, Mohave County economic development director, talks with Melissa Palmer about bringing a grocery store to Golden Valley at a community meeting Tuesday evening. A standing-room only crowd of more than 60 Golden Valley residents attended the meeting. (HUBBLE RAY SMITH/Miner)

GOLDEN VALLEY - It's going to take more than hopes and wishes to bring a full-fledged grocery store to this rural stretch along Highway 68, an area with sparse population and very little commercial development.

A rough estimate would be $20 million to $30 million. That's what it costs for a major grocer to build one of its prototype stores with a parking lot and infrastructure, Golden Valley resident Paul Gorham said Tuesday at a community meeting.

More than 60 Golden Valley residents showed up at the Golden Valley Fire District Training Center to hear Mohave County economic development director Bennett Bratley present an update on efforts to entice a grocer.

They didn't get the assurances they were hoping for and the meeting at times turned into a gripe session, with people talking over each other and losing focus of the subject at hand.

Bottom line, Bratley explained, is that grocers such as Smith's, Safeway and Basha's already capture market share from Golden Valley through their stores in Kingman and don't see enough numbers to warrant new development.

The 2010 U.S. Census counts Golden Valley's population at 8,370, though two outlying tracts with more than 3,000 residents each aren't included in the Census.

Traffic count on Highway 68 exceeds 12,000 vehicles a day, most of it passing through Golden Valley on the way to Bullhead City and Laughlin.

Bratley said he reached out to the National Grocers Association and Independent Grocers Association and he's had some interest, but no commitment.

"We started talking to industry stores and let them know about Golden Valley," Bratley told the residents. "We've made some strides, but right now we don't have one of these stores saying they're going to do something."

The economic development director handed out surveys that asked questions such as where people shop for groceries, how many miles do they travel, how often do they shop and how much do they spend. Their input is critical to the success of the survey, he said.

Information from the survey will be used to conduct a feasibility study to determine the need for a grocery store in Golden Valley.

Bratley said he talked with Kingman's three major grocers and asked them to look at ZIP codes where their customers live. He showed a map of other commercial enterprises in Golden Valley such as Subway, Dollar General, Sonic, Maverick and National Bank.

Jack Ehrhardt, Democratic candidate for Mohave County Supervisor District 4, said he spoke with Ed Basha and was told Basha's would need to conduct its own needs assessment that would cost about $5,000.

The biggest part of the study is "leakage," or how many people work and shop outside of Golden Valley.

"They look at Golden Valley and it's so spread out, this is a completely different picture for them to absorb," Ehrhardt said.

One obstacle to developing in Golden Valley is the lack of a sewer system.

Cullin Pattillo, environmental engineer manager for Mohave County, said it's easy to get permit for septic tanks of less than 3,000 gallons. It gets a little complicated above that level, but it can be done, he said.

"I don't want to be a brick wall. My answer to anyone who comes in with a commercial request is, 'Yes, we can make that happen,'" Pattillo said.

Bratley said he needs a developer to come to the county and put together a package to send out to potential retail anchors.

"Right now there aren't any," he said.

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