Department store eyed for Trinity

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Branch Realty says Kroger is interested in anchoring a ‘new urbanism’ project including residential, retail and offices

By Garrison Wells

Kroger is again interested in putting an expanded grocery store that would include retail items such as clothing, electronics, toys and jewelry at the new Trinity site.

“The concept has been approved,” said Allen Branch, one of the principals of Branch Realty of Santa Fe. “They want to anchor the center.”

Kroger, which owns Smith’s Food & Drug Center in Los Alamos and White Rock, “would do furniture, clothing, electronics, toys, jewelry. It’s a general merchandise store in addition to a grocery. It definitely is needed up there. There’s not a lot of product and you’ve got a fabulous household income.”

Branch is among developers that have responded to the county’s request for proposal to develop the Trinity Site Revitalization Project on Trinity Drive.

Others that have responded so far include North American Development Group and Lockhard Development, both  major center developers. Their proposals are similar: pedestrian-friendly with a mix of retail and a grocery store.

Branch’s proposal, however, includes a Kroger Marketplace, a super-sized discount retailer similar to a Walmart. The firm also suggests that the county locate its proposed new municipal building at the Trinity Site, a proposal that could end some long-time controversy surrounding that building.

“We’re looking for streetscape, pedestrian walkability, more of a live-work environment with residential, office, retail,” Branch said.

Plans also call for a Walgreens, civic/performing arts center, 150-room hotel and hundreds of townhomes and apartments and medical office space.

Retailers mentioned in the firm’s plans include:

• Office Depot/Staples

• Family Dollar

• TJ Maxx

• Ross Dress For Less

• Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant

• Applebee’s

And specialty stores would include bicycle, hair and beauty, women’s specialty, women’s shoes, jewelry, computer, copy and shipping, ice cream, a gym and workout store.

The Kroger Marketplace, said County Councilor Vincent Chiravelle, was part of an earlier proposal that didn’t make it.

Nonetheless, he supports a big box store

because residents have indicated they want one in Los Alamos.

“They told us very clearly by approving an ordinance that they wanted a big box store in town,” he said. “We have a great quality of life in this community, but basic retail is lacking in this community that people in other communities take for granted – for instance a Walmart or a Walgreens.”

Some existing business owners say they would like to see the project get approved.

“My perspective is that if people are able to get more of their goods up here, they will stay up here and shop,” said Cyndi Wells, owner of Pet Pangaea. “I think that will be good for my business as a specialty retailer.”

Hills Diner also would be largely unhurt by the development of the site, said Ivan Vasin, a waiter at the popular restaurant.

“We have a set of customers for the evenings and we have the LANL people coming in for lunch,” he said.