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Old Safeway building up for lease, leaders say

Dec 14, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The owner of the old Safeway property on North Federal Boulevard is looking to lease the building, though city leaders believe he would consider a sale "for the right price."

Kevin Kershisnik, vice president an executive director of Riverton's economic development organization IDEA Inc., shared the details of the listing for the property, which is available for lease through Broker-One Real Estate in Casper.

According to the preliminary document, he said the lease would cost $4.50 per square foot per year - a price he called "pretty reasonable."

"Retail space goes for more than that," Kershisnik said, "and manufacturing space goes for a little less. So it's kind of in the range."

The 43,200 square foot building sits on almost 3.4 acres of land, he said, reading from the listing; it was built in 1977 and got a new roof in 2015.

Kershisnik noted that the property still is tied to its current lease agreement, which is valid through February or March.

He also addressed rumors that the property already had been purchased by the Albertson grocery store company, which owns the Safeway brand.

"I've not heard anything about that," he said, adding, "I don't understand why they'd close a store then come back and buy (the property)."

Kershisnik has been in contact with local grocers like IGA in Thermopolis and Mr. D's in Lander asking whether they would be interested in the property, but those business owners told him that, with Walmart and Smith's already established in Riverton, the prospect is only realistic for large, national companies that are able to buy a large amount of goods at more competitive prices.

"So we keep calling ... the big guys to see if they have any interest," Kershisnik said. "There's none at this time that I'm aware of."

Another option is to find a more "boutique" type of food store for the space.

"We've been talking about locally grown foods and co-ops (that are) out there looking for a retail outlet," he said. "There are pieces moving in the background, but nothing real solid."

He added that a local food co-op probably wouldn't need 43,000 square feet of space.

"That's the dilemma on that side of things," he said.

IDEA involvement

Several years ago, IDEA Inc. stepped in to purchase the old Alco building that had sat vacant on West Main Street for more than a decade. The organization has since found tenants to fill the facility, but Kershisnik said property ownership in general isn't likely to be part of IDEA's new strategic plan, which is being developed starting this year.

"We want to be an economic development entity - not a landlord," he said. "If a building starts getting derelict-y and run down and becomes an issue and we know folks have a need, (we could) buy it to keep a company in town or recruit a company ...

"But (not) if it was just to buy a building."

Kershisnik pointed out that, with the Alco building, "the stars aligned" to make the purchase workable: A local company needed a new location at around the same time the Alco lease lapsed, and IDEA was able to obtain a grant to help fund the project.

Liquor license

The liquor license that formerly belonged to the Safeway store - which closed in October - has been transferred to Jason Howard under 307 Liquors Inc., according to previous reports.

In a Nov. 29 email to The Ranger, Howard said he has no plans for the license at that time.

Kershisnik said he wasn't surprised the liquor license was quickly acquired. A few brew pubs have expressed interest in moving to Riverton, Kershisnik explained, so they will likely be in the market for one of the city's 34 licenses.

"There's a limited number of those here, so they end up being quite valuable," he said.

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