Walmart buys former Rainbow Market site

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln shoppers may not have to soon travel to Roseville to visit Walmart. Steve Art, Lincoln’s economic and redevelopment manager, said Walmart bought the property on Dec. 31. He told The News Messenger on Jan. 6 that it would be similar to a grocery store. Tiffany Moffatt, a spokesperson for Walmart, confirmed that Walmart purchased the land but would not say what the retail giant’s plans are for the building. “I can tell you Walmart is always looking for opportunities to be as close to our customers as possible,” Moffatt said. “I don’t have a lot of information to share at this point.” Rainbow Market closed in 2008 and the building was bought by KKP-Kim Properties, LLC in October of 2009, according to Fred Katz, a principal for the building’s former owner. “We were working with Grocery Outlet, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Dollar Tree to take over the space but they are very cost conscious tenants and we weren’t coming to an agreement on economics,” Katz said. “We had a $6 million remodel planned for the property and the rents we needed to achieve to support the cost was difficult to obtain from the tenants we were working with. One of the tenants was investing their own money and was able to make the number work if they purchased it but not if they leased it.” Katz would not release the name of the buyer of the Rainbow Market building, citing a confidentiality agreement signed “which precludes us from confirming their identity.” City leaders are positive about the effects of Walmart inhabiting the Rainbow Market building will have. “It will create more jobs and will bring people back to the downtown area. As they go to shop, they will visit other stores and will help revitalize that area,” Lincoln City Manager Jim Estep said. The new Walmart will also help sales tax, according to Estep but he couldn’t say by how much. “We don’t know the size (of the store) and how much will be taxable,” Estep said. “Non-grocery items are taxable but grocery items are not.” Those non-taxable items include alcohol and paper goods. Art’s comments echoed Estep’s. “It would help with sales tax and employment. The grocery store doesn’t produce that much sales tax, so it will be employment and it will bring people into the downtown area,” Art said. “There will be some sales tax, but for the most part groceries don’t bring in a lot of sales tax.” With Walmart in town, Art said residents would be more likely to stay in town and shop instead of venturing out of Lincoln. “It’s taking a site that is currently vacant and inhabiting it,” Art said. Most residents The News Messenger spoke with were positive about Walmart purchasing the Rainbow Market site. “Great, the more business the better, and it’s more revenue,” Lisa Peck said. “I think that the stores that are here could hold up to the competition.” Michael Luciano said it means he would not have to drive to Roseville once a week since he shops at Walmart every week “because of the prices.” “I think it will help rejuvenate the downtown and get traffic down there,” Luciano said. Harold Herbert was not as excited about Walmart coming to Lincoln. “It’s a little ridiculous because we’ve got one so close. I think it will hurt Target to have a Walmart,” Herbert said. “The bottom line is that’s good to see a business come instead of go. We just don’t want to see any negative effect.”