Different plans to revitalize the Warrenton Outlet Center were outlined Tuesday night in a work session with Warrenton officials and representatives of a management company representing the owners of the property.
AFI Property Management, Columbia, is the company hired by the property owners to seek out tenants and direct redevelopment of the site.
David Atkins, AFI’s CEO, told city officials that his company’s specialty is “challenging multifamily and commercial projects,” adding that he is very familiar with the Warrenton Outlet Center, having driven by the property “one to five times a week for 20 years.
“The good news is the people we represent are experts at this type of redevelopment,” Atkins added. “The site is outstanding and it has enormous potential.”
He said the first step in the process will be for his company to draw up two or three concepts to bring the property to 100 percent capacity. Those proposals will be presented to the property owners “and they will choose the one most likely to succeed.
“It’s too early to get into the details,” Atkins said, because nothing has been finalized.
Based on the analysis of the property by AFI, resources will be provided to help ensure the project’s success, Atkins continued.
Additionally, he encouraged city officials to help by directing any potential contacts to AFI representatives, “no matter how bizarre.
“What wouldn’t work six years ago may work now because the circumstances are different,” Atkins remarked.
However, he stressed that it is not possible to know how long it will take before the project produces results.
Mayor Jerry Dyer pointed out that the property has been “dormant” for a long time.
“There is great infrastructure there,” Atkins said.
“The access is not the best, but you’re working on that,” he added, referring to the proposed Interstate 70 overpass which could be constructed just west of the Warrenton Outlet Center.
Atkins said the project will rely, to a certain extent, on the time line for the overpass project.
“That would be a game-changer for that site,” he said.
Another option that could be pursued would be to use the site as a educational campus or a training center.
“You need square footage and parking, but you don’t need great access,” Atkins said, suggesting the site also would be ideal for a call center.
The key will be getting a tenant to anchor the development, noted Atkins.
“That will set the tone for the location,” he stated. “A retail anchor would be fantastic.
“We need to get people to stand in the buildings,” Atkins continued. “Hopefully, in the next year we’ll get the right anchor (tenant) to commit. That’s going to be our biggest challenge.”
Atkins said progress on the revitalization project should be evident within the next 18 months or less.
“We want to know what would work well in this center, in this community at this time,” he asserted.
“Your success is our success,” Mayor Jerry Dyer said.