When citizens look at the vacant property along West Osage and lament that there are not enough places to shop in Pacific, they need to know that the city is focused on retail opportunities, according to Mayor Herb Adams.
“My fondest hope is still for more retail,” Adams said in an interview with The Missourian. “Retail is at the top of my agenda.”
There hasn’t been much talk in the last few years about attracting retail, Adams said, due to the economic downturn that put a chill on growth.
“The recession has put retail on the back burner everywhere,” he said. “By late in 2013 there will be a healthier situation and in 2014-15, I truly believe Pacific will get its lions share of retail.”
Debris recently was removed and the property graded at the former Hidden Oaks Trailer Park so when a developer comes forward for the Lazy Larry’s property nearby those two parcels can be combined, the mayor said.
Although there is no project at present, the fact that they are preparing the ground shows that their thoughts are on development, Adams said.
“Even through the recession there were occasional inquiries about that property,” he said. “In the last six months phone calls have begun to pick up. We’re even getting calls about properties outside the city limits, where there were questions about voluntary annexation.”
Although he would not identify the location, Adams said there is one piece of property in the city where there has been a series of calls from one potential developer, but no one has walked through the door.
Wallis Oil has expanded its parcel at the eastbound Interstate 44 interchange by purchasing the former bowling alley property.
“Again, they have not brought new plans to the city,” Adams said. “Their original plan was that they wanted to attract a hotel chain, restaurants and their Mobil on the Run. Since they expanded their property we tend to think they are still looking at that original plan.”
City engineer Dan Rahn and City Administrator Harold Selby are keeping tabs on all the properties.
“I can tell you that no opportunity will be squandered to assist a serious retail development,” Adams said. “The city will do its part to help in the development of these properties or any others.”
The mayor said he is looking to tourism to help existing retailers by bringing visitors to the city.
Tourism has already shown that Pacific can be sold as a location for visitors interested in the Civil War cannon on Blackburn Park, or to watch the trains in downtown.
“We need to capitalize on that,” Adams said. “With the use of city tourism money, we need to bring tourists to Pacific.
“The most serious civic groups should play an active role,” he added. “They should take a leadership role. They should figure out how to do the infrastructure and planning.”
Adams said tourism money should be spent wisely.
“Its use needs to go beyond buying advertising,” he said. “The next step there should be serious projects.
“I always had a tourism contingency fund waiting for someone to come up with a new idea,” Adams added.