Company representatives wanted to keep their initial speculation behind closed doors, but have publicly met with the Nicholasville Planning Commission members in the past months for variance approvals and to pave the way for a new project.
On Gander Mountain’s behalf, Josh Schmidt with Brooks and Amaden, a Tampa, Fla., civil engineer company, met with the planning commissioners in April to discuss the 11.33 acres of property on the southwest corner of Brannon Road and Lancer Drive.
Brooks and Amaden is acting as the civic project manager for Gander Mountain, and on April 23, Schmidt told the Nicholasville Planning Commission that his client was seeking approval to amend a plat and development plan for a Gander Mountain retail store in the Brannon Crossing development.
Schmidt also said the development plan of the land was originally sought in 2007 but Gander Mountain wanted a variance to subdivide the land into three lots, which the commissioners approved.
“The store itself would be 52,000 square feet and be located toward the back of the lot,” Schmidt said. “The property is currently owned by a bank, and Gander Mountain has a purchase agreement to buy the property assuming that their project will work and is approvable on the site, but the bank does not want to go through a subdivision process.”
Gander Mountain is interested in the back lot, Schmidt said, but wants to split the property to allow for unspecified tenants of the two out lots along Brannon Crossing to deal with future planning-and-zoning issues on their own.
“Our policy is not to comment about potential future locations until a lease is signed, and at this point, nothing has been signed in the greater Lexington area, so I can’t comment specifically about Jessamine County,” Myers said. “But it’s obviously no secret that company officials are taking a closer look at the region.”
The company cannot not sign a lease since, at this time, there is not a building on the property nor has a building plan been filed, Greg Bohnett, director of planning/administrative officer, said.
Of the three lots, the largest plat’s layout is for a building roughly the size of the Nicholasville Walmart on North Main Street — not Gander Mountain’s largest store but average for the company.
The fate of the other two lots, separated by an “ample parking lot,” is undisclosed and at the discretion of the company to lease out or possibly sell, Schmidt said.
According to an E*Trade stock analyst report, Gander Mountain “has adopted a series of strategic and operating initiatives aimed at improving its merchandise offerings and enhancing profitability, while aggressively opening stores.”
Between 2003 and 2007, Gander Mountain grew 102 percent — from 57 stores to 115.
At the end of the fourth quarter of 2007, on the brink of the recession, sales decreased 8.4 percent.
“After rapidly opening new stores and increasing market share, the company would have likely shifted its focus to operating profitable stores and not simply expanding its store base,” the stock report stated.
After 2007, the company’s aggressive expansion plateaued with only a few new stores by 2009. Some closed and some consolidated when the company went private.
Today, the company has 114 stores in 23 states but is in the process of creating seven new stores, only two of which (Valdosta, Ga. and Morrisville, N.C.) have been officially announced, Myers said.
The confirmation of seven new stores could mean the company is returning to its progressively expanding roots.
When or if the store in Brannon Crossing will be built and opened can not be verified at this time, but Bohnett said he has “never seen a company this far along in the process that has not taken it all the way.”