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Huge developer eyes Trinity site

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North American Development Group wants to build ‘pedestrian friendly’ shopping center

By Garrison Wells

If North American Development Group wins the Trinity Site redevelopment lottery, upscale retail is in Los Alamos’ near future.

The Canada- and U.S.-based developer, which owns or runs more than 10 million square feet of shopping center space, would like to develop a “pedestrian friendly” center in Los Alamos.

“We’re looking forward  to incorporating picnic areas, small integrated park areas where pedestrians can congregate, a restaurant overlooking the back bay, as I like to call it,” said Stephen Preston, managing partner of NADG.

“Residents will be able to park, go into the primary grocery store and get their staples, have a burger at the restaurant and enjoy the view.”

The firm is among nine major retail developers that have expressed an interest in adding to their portfolios by developing Los Alamos’ Trinity Site.

Plans at that site, at least according to an RFP issued by Los Alamos County, call for an anchor store and developing the Canyon Rim Trail along the Los Alamos Canyon southern edge.

“I think from what I have heard is we’ve had a pretty high level of interest in folks who want to talk to us about what to do on that site,” said Ralph Phelps, Los Alamos county councilor. “My position on it is that I like the concept of what we call a lifestyle center for that shopping area. I  really am not very excited about the alternative of a large anchor or as some people call it, a ‘big box,’ sitting on an asphalt parking lot.”

Phelps said his preference would be a “community-type place, with an anchor store and other things, like smaller shops and another type of hotel conference center.”

The developers who said they were interested include:

• North American Development Group, which owns and manages more than 10 million square feet of shopping center space in the U.S and Canada.

• Zaremba Retail Co., which has developed more than 14 million square feet nationwide and has more than 3 million square feet of retail space in development or under construction.

• Glimcher Group, owner and operator of several million square feet of shopping centers across the U.S.

• Regency Centers, owner, operator and developer of grocery-anchored and community shopping centers across the country. Regency has developed 201 centers since 2000 worth more than $3 billion.

• Armstrong Development Properties, a privately held company which specializes in retail development.

• Levey Company, a private company with experience with shopping centers in the Northeast.

• Flintridge Partners, specialists in privatized government property and real estate opportunities requiring complex financing structures and ownership strategies.

• Lockard Development, a privately-held company which has developed retail, office and mixed-use projects in 23 states and has expertise in large, multi-phase land development projects.

• Branch Realty, a privately held firm from Santa Fe which has developed retail at the Railyard and elsewhere in Santa Fe.

The nine were selected from 50 companies that expressed some interest in the development and have been invited to submit responses to an RFP that was issued in May. Responses are due to the county by today.  

North American plans to make the deadline.

“We are moving forward to have our submittal by that date,” Preston said. “We are very excited about the project and we think it is a special place. We hope to be the winning bidder.”

Preston said the company has been working on plans for the site for about a year and has put together a development team.

Not everybody is still in the running, however.

Subtract Glimcher from the list.

“The Glimcher Group is no longer pursuing the above-referenced project. They have dropped out of the RFP process,” Karen Sisko said by e-mail. Sisko is the executive assistant to Robert Glimcher.

Other developers that had expressed an interest in developing the site didn’t respond to e-mails or phone calls.

Phelps said he believes the council should not close the door on incentives to induce a developer to build.

 “There might be some public areas in the lifestyle center, walkways, trails, that the county could get involved with in some ways,” he said. “When we talk about development coming into the area, public-private is something we want to look at.”