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Smith's seeks more time on Trinity Site deal

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By Arin McKenna

Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess is recommending that council approve an amendment to Smith’s/Kroger’s ground lease agreement on the Trinity Site. The amendment allows Smith’s two additional 30-day extensions of the feasibility period. 

The county staff report notes that since signing the lease agreement “Kroger has been working diligently on feasibility period tasks. The company submitted and received approval of a site plan. They have a complete building permit submitted. And they have been working with the State of New Mexico Department of Transportation to obtain required road access permits for access onto Trinity Drive.”

"It is this last task — working with NMDOT — that has created some delay in the completion of Kroger’s feasibility period tasks. Given the progress on other feasibility period items and their progress to date with the state, staff is recommending that the lease be modified to allow Kroger up to two additional 30-day extensions to the feasibility period so that they can complete their prerequisite items."

Smith’s proposal calls for a signalized entrance between Trinity Site and the Mari-Mac Shopping Center, a right in/right out entrance to the west of that and another right in/right out entrance for delivery trucks and the drive-through pharmacy to the east.

According to NMDOT’s control manual, the intersections are too close together. Smith’s has requested a variance, which must be approved for the design to move forward.

“In order to get the requested number of entrances to the site they had to request a variance because their design does not conform to the strict interpretation of NMDOT requirements for a state highway,” Burgess said. “Neither does the existing property out there, because there’s some requirement for no more than one entrance every 350 feet. If you go along Trinity Drive and measure today, we wouldn’t meet that requirement in a number of scenarios.”

If the variance is not approved the entire project could fall through.

“We need what we’ve asked for in some form or another,” Smith’s Vice President of Corporate Development Steven Sorenson said. “If NMDOT doesn’t allow what we’ve asked for, we’ll be back to the drawing board to see if we can figure out something else that will work. If we can’t have the accesses that we need, the commercial project doesn’t work.”

The lease amendment also calls for Smith’s to perform both onsite and offsite work for the county in order to avoid contractor conflicts and to ensure that the work occurs prior to the opening of the development.  

The specified work includes demolition of on-site existing asphalt, filling the existing retention pond and constructing a new retention pond, construction of the Canyon rim trail and traffic safety improvements. The county will pay $622,000 for the work as tasks are completed.

Smith’s will also agree to construct gas, water, electric and sewer improvements and provide the engineering design services for those improvements. The county will reimburse the company up to $1,031,276 for the improvements.

The amended agreement comes before council for approval during the council’s session set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers.