Possible tenants eye Rainbow Market

Property owner says several businesses interested in site
By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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After receiving e-mails from the Rainbow Market property owner, rumors of a Wal-Mart locating there have not been dispelled. The News Messenger left phone messages for Fred Katz, a principal for KKP-Kim Properties, LLC, the company that owns the Rainbow Market building located at Third Street and Highway 65, on Friday through Tuesday. Katz, only responding by e-mail Tuesday, didn’t answer the question of whether Wal-Mart was moving into the former grocery store. Grocery Outlet, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Dollar Tree are three companies who have expressed interest about moving into the Rainbow Market building, according to Katz. “We are working with several tenants interested in locating in the former Rainbow Market shopping center,” Katz said via e-mail Tuesday morning. He added that other businesses interested include restaurants and financial institutions. “We have not yet finalized a transaction with any of these tenants.” In June, an area newspaper reported that Wal-Mart was interested in the Rainbow Market property for a smaller scale Wal-Mart store. “While we have not announced new projects in the Lincoln area, we continue to evaluate opportunities to create jobs and deliver affordable services to our customers,” Amelia Neufeld, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, e-mailed The News Messenger on Monday. Steve Art, economic and redevelopment manager for the city of Lincoln, told The News Messenger on Friday that no one from Wal-Mart “has approached the city of Lincoln” about opening a Wal-Mart store in the Rainbow Market building. “We would welcome them to come to our door. That would be marvelous. We’d like to see everything tenanted,” Art said. “We’ve heard from people north of Auburn Ravine who liked having groceries in the downtown area.” Bruce Franse, who lives north of Auburn Ravine, said he’d like to see a grocery store in the Rainbow Market building but not necessarily a Wal-Mart. “I live on this end of Lincoln and we have to go through the traffic to get over there (to Raley’s or Safeway,)” Franse said. “I would probably hate it (Wal-Mart) because that would make this road busier than it already is.” Mike Lovesee, owner of Lincoln Smog, Brake and Auto Repair, which is located across the street from the property, said he’d “like to see anything” go in the building. “Anything would help out my business,” Lovesee said. “I think it (Wal-Mart) would be great because more people pulling in there would see my shop.” Giving a similar statement is Dan Huang, owner of Shanghai Gardens, who said a business opening up in the old Rainbow Market building “would bring more people to Lincoln.” Before his company can start remodeling and updating the property, Katz said, the company would have to “finalize transactions with at least two retail users for the project.” Remodeling includes a facelift to the exterior of the building, according to “exterior elevation designs of the currently proposed remodel” provided by Katz. “The city has been cooperative in accommodating the needs of the tenants and our remodel plans,” Katz e-mailed. Art said the city assists the property owner for marketing. “We will provide information about the city and help them calculate fees and permits,” Art said. “We’re working with the property owner to make it economically viable.” Art also said the Rainbow Market property is important to the downtown vitality. “We’re trying to create a downtown from First to Seventh Street,” Art said. That includes improving the building’s look from its current appearance of “an old shopping center built in the ‘70s that has a 1970s look.”