By Natalie Simms
It’s been nearly a year since Rome’s Kmart closed its doors on Hicks Drive. And yet the highly visible property on the booming strip of Turner McCall Boulevard still sits vacant with nary a sign of redevelopment. No ‘For Sale’ or ‘For Lease’ signs have ever been posted.
Sears Holding Corp./Kmart does not own the property; the site was strictly a lease, says Kmart/Sears corporate spokesman Howard Riefs.
According to Rome/Floyd Property Tax Records, Kmart sits on 15.8 acres valued at $6.25 million and is owned by Romekim LC. The property was purchased by Romekim LC in 1994 for $11,845,200. Romekim also owns an adjacent parcel (behind the store) of 2.52 acres valued at $115,200.
It has been quite a mystery to figure out who is behind Romekim, but here is what we do know:
- According to Georgia Secretary of State’s Corporation database, Romekim LC was registered as a Foreign Business Corporation on Feb. 18, 1994. However, it is now listed as inactive. The corporation’s registered address is 3 New York Plaza in New York City, which is the home of PanAm Equities, Inc., a very large property management firm owned by the Manocherian Family. Our calls to PanAm Equities were not returned this week.
- According to property documents, the 15.8 acres was sold to a Rome United Co. that lists John Manocherian as grantee. Rome United Co. then sold the property to Romekim on March 9, 1994. There are no individual names listed on documents. However, both Rome United Co. and Romekim both have same registered address in New York.
- As far as property taxes are concerned, all current tax bills have been paid. The billing address for the property is listed as Romekim LC in C/O Kmart Corporate Property Tax Company in Hoffman Estate, Ill. According to Riefs, “We pay the tax bill directly to the taxing authorities on behalf of the landlord, which is why the city lists it as c/o Kmart. We lease this property and do not own.”
Nearby property owners are anxiously awaiting news of the former Kmart’s redevelopment. Heritage Capitol Partners owns Etowah Crossing Shopping Center located adjacent to the property.
“We have not heard anything about the (Kmart) property. We are just patiently waiting to see what happens,” says Chris Ashkouti, one of principals with Heritage Capitol Partners.
On the backside of the Kmart property, fronting Turner McCall Blvd., Mesak Properties (owned by Jeffrey Kehl) has listed its adjoining 1.42 acres with Hardy Realty. Agent Carol Hatch says she has fielded some calls on the property but so far, no takers. The property is listed for $350,000.
“With the property being along busy Turner McCall Boulevard, we believed there would be lots of interest. We have had several inquiries but have had no indications to let me know that anything is going on with the Kmart property,” says Hatch.
And Rome-Floyd Building official Howard Gibson says no one has come forward with any plans for redevelopment at this time.
There have been several rumors circulating since the store closed about new retailers coming to town. The latest rumor involves club warehouse giant Costco. When contacted about a new Rome location, a Costco representative said, “Unfortunately, it is our company policy to not comment regarding future Costco locations.” She directed us to the company’s website for future store openings.
Other rumors — and entirely just rumors — have included an Academy Sports & Outdoors store, a Bed, Bath & Beyond and at least two restaurants.
For now, it looks like we will just have to keep waiting and watching for future redevelopment plans.
Meanwhile, Sears/Kmart announced plans earlier this year to close another 72 stores across the country including the Kmart store in Calhoun at 122 WC Bryant Parkway. An exact closing date is not known at this time. Riefs says Kmart does not own that property either but only leases the building.
According to Gordon County property tax records, the shopping center is owned by M&P Calhoun, LLC doing business as M&P Shopping Centers. Company representative Jeremy Rosenthall says they do not have a date yet of when Kmart will vacate the building.
“We do not have any plans at this time. We will make decisions when they vacate the building…we don’t know when that will be, we don’t have a date yet,” he says.
Kmart closed its Cartersville store in January 2013. That building at the Cartersville Crossing shopping center has since been demolished with an Academy Sports & Outdoor and Party City rebuilt in its place.