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Council to consider grant, TIF for Hobby Lobby projectTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Bulletin graphics
A site plan for the largest tract
Photo by City of North Platte
An overhead view of the larger area (click on images to enlarge)
Photo by George Lauby
Mark Wilkinson

On Tuesday, the North Platte city council will consider awarding nearly $2 million in incentives to help developer Mark Wilkinson build a new building for Hobby Lobby.

Wilkinson wants to erect a new building on the south side of the I-80 interchange, along W. Eugene Ave., and rent half of it to Hobby Lobby.

The council will consider an $880,000 grant as well as $1.2 million in tax increment financing (TIF) for the project.

The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 211 W. Third.

Developers want to start demolishing the existing building there this year and open the new building in 2015.

Hobby Lobby offers craft and hobby supplies such as fabrics, yarns, scrapbooking and artist’s materials, baking and party supplies as well as home décor, wedding and floral supplies. The company was established in 1972 in Oklahoma City and now has 558 stores across the country. 

Eventually, the redevelopment in North Platte could create 140 new jobs and generate $159,000 in new city sales tax revenues each year, according to city documents.  

The total cost of the project -- demolition and site preparation (parking lot reconstruction and renovated utilities) -- is projected to be $1.95 million. That projection does not include the cost of a new building.


The area is currently home to the Red Roof Antique Mall as well as the Lincoln County Visitor’s Center, both of which occupy a 1970s era red metal building where K-Mart was located decades ago.

Also, a restaurant nearby would be demolished and redeveloped. It was once home to Mi Ranchito.

The council declared the area blighted in 1998.

The restaurant is vacant and subject to deterioration. And, the visitor’s center “intends to quit” the old K-Mart building. The antique mall generates little economic vitality and the parking lots have deteriorated too, the proposal says.

The area cannot be “reasonably anticipated to be developed without public action,” according to the proposal.

The grant would come from the Quality Growth Fund – a fund of currently $4 million, ready to entice developers and businesses to North Platte.

On July 9, the quality growth advisory committee voted 4-0 to recommend the $880,000 grant for the Hobby Lobby project. Two members, Pat Keenan and Dudley Oltmans, were absent.

The committee noted that there is considerable “leakage” of shoppers to other cities, including Kearney, where a Hobby Lobby is located. Also, the committee said the Ogallala Wal-Mart store is under development, and a new state law eliminates sales tax on agricultural machinery parts, both of which will reduce city sales tax income.

The Lincoln County Planning Commission voted 9-0 to approve the redevelopment plans, which include upgrading utilities and the drainage of the property.

Both parcels of property belong to Wilkinson and are located next to the Wilkinson-owned Holiday Inn and Suites.


Hobby Lobby signed a letter of intent in April with Wilkinson to open the store. Wilkinson said then that the deal hinged on demolition of the 1970s building and construction of a new building.

According to plans, the new building would contain nearly 95,000 square feet -- 55,000 square feet -- the traditional size of a full-scale Hobby Lobby -- plus another 40,000 sq. ft. for another retail store.

The other pacel -- land where the restaurant is located -- would become a four-bay strip mall plus a stand-alone structure whose nature is not specified.

In April, Wilkinson said talks were underway with Dunham’s Sporting Goods about the other side of the new building, and he also had a working list of other possible tenants.

But Wilkinson told the county’s quality growth fund committee that his risk would be unmanageable without the $880,000 grant because only one tenant is confirmed.  

Wilkinson said Hobby Lobby could be the start of new retail development from I-80 to Menards along the city’s main corridor -- U.S. 83/Jeffers St.

Wilkinson believes that Hobby Lobby will draw shoppers from all over west central Nebraska, which would in turn attract other retailers to North Platte who see favorable business opportunities.

If the council approves the plan, demolition of the old K-Mart would begin this year. Hobby Lobby would open in 2015, in time for the holiday shopping season, if the plans materialize.


(The estimated cost of demolition and site preparation has been clarified. - Editor.)

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 7/12/2014
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