Businesses move in as city expands


Since the downtown redevelopment project began, rumors have circulated about which restaurants and stores will move in or out. With all of the negotiation, it is hard to keep up, but City Manager Ron Fehr has set the record straight – at least for now. Downtown Redevelopment

Dial Realty, developers of the project, have announced that Bed Bath & Beyond has signed a lease, Fehr said. The home décor store is planning to locate in the north end of the downtown redevelopment project near Best Buy and McAlister’s Deli.

Dial also has projected an OfficeMax, PETCO and a Mountain Mudd Espresso and Coffee kiosk for the same area. Fehr said Mountain Mudd will occupy the drive through, which is attached to the east side of McAlister’s and is expected to open sometime this fall.

Brandi Branfort, sophomore in business, said she is happy to hear about the PETCO, because she said Manhattan does not have any decent pet stores, but she said she is most excited for the Bed Bath & Beyond.

Kris Pacinelli, senior in mechanical engineering, said he agrees.

“I can finally get to use my 20-percent off coupons, since I get one in the mail from the store in Topeka every week,” Pacinelli said. “Plus, I sure am sick of going to Wal-Mart and Target for all my house supplies.”

Fehr also said Dial has proposed the installment of a Hy-Vee grocery store. However, Brandfort said she does not necessarily believe bringing in another supermarket is a smart move.

“I think it’s pretty dumb to put another grocery store between a Walgreens, Wal-Mart and a Dillons,” Brandfort said. “It doesn’t really make sense.”

But nothing is set in stone yet. The Hy-Vee has signed a letter of intent, Fehr said, but it still must go through the rezoning process before anything is finalized.

“The goal of the north end redevelopment was estimated as a mixed-use area of commercial retail and residential business to improve the community,” he said. “It will hopefully strengthen our community to make the downtown area a strong, viable market and enhance the original downtown core.”

Fehr said the north end redevelopment also will be the primary financing to provide for a south end redevelopment. This will allow the city to take advantage of the $50 million in star bonds to create a second entertainment district downtown. The entertainment district, he said, is proposedto include a new hotel conference facility, theater, restaurant, music and discovery center. McCall Area Development

Although the McCall area development is a completely different project from the downtown redevelopment, speculation as to which restaurants are being opened has been equally as great. Rumors that the International House of Pancakes is backing out and that an Olive Garden or Red Lobster will take its place are simply not true, Fehr said. There has never been any negotiation about either of those restaurants and the IHOP is about 80 percent finished.

The other restaurants to be built in the McCall area include a Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, and a Wendy’s already is in place. Fehr said the Taco Bell is a relocation of the company that owned the now demolished Long John Silvers on Fourth Street. The owners had other options of franchises and decided to reopen as a Taco Bell.

Manhattan building official Brad Claussen said it will be hard to tell when the Pizza Hut, IHOP and Taco Bell will open.

Each restaurant has been contracted by a different construction company, Claussen said, so the final date is up to whomever works the fastest. But for now, he said the Pizza Hut is getting close, the Taco Bell just went through its framing inspection Friday – which means the interior is left to be finished – and the IHOP is somewhere in the middle.

Heather Wise, senior in architecture and product design, said she is pleased to see some more fast food places going in closer to campus, especially the Taco Bell since its other location is on the opposite side of town.

It is impossible to tell right now what effect the redevelopment projects will have on the city.

“Everybody is hoping it’s going to be a positive one – especially economically,” said City Commissioner Jim Sherow. “That was the intention right from the beginning.”