Finding tenants for Lake Havasu City’s mall should become easier now that the Lake Havasu City Planning and Zoning Commission has expanded the rules on what kinds of businesses can locate there.
The commission approved a rezoning request Wednesday for The Shops at Lake Havasu. The action follows several similar zoning changes for the property’s parcels in the last eight months.
One of the buildings and three vacant outparcels at The Shops are now able to include a wider variety of businesses after the commission unanimously voted to rezone the properties on Wednesday.
The rezoning of the building that includes PetSmart, Bealls, and Cactus RV essentially removes the building from the current General Commercial/Planned Development into a General Commercial, or C-2, District.
The zoning changes come less than a year after Jarrett Portz took over ownership of 200,000 square feet of space at the mall in February. At the time, Portz, working with Lake Havasu City’s Partnership for Economic Development, said his ultimate goal was to attract retailers and restaurants and enhance entertainment options at the mall.
“This is just a preemptive zoning change similar to what was done in the last couple months in the same development,” said Rob Sampson, with Selberg Associates, Inc. who attended the meeting on behalf of the owner. “It just gives the opportunity to attract different businesses that aren’t solely retail based. We would all love to see more restaurants and more retail, but unfortunately that avenue has proven that it hasn’t been successful for whatever reason. So instead of having vacant buildings to greet all of our visitors as they come into town, we are trying to find ways to fill up those businesses that will be in favor of what the community is looking for.”
Additional businesses that would be allowed on the lot include various offices, recreation and entertainment opportunities, and hotels.
The rezoning is similar to what was recently done with a 31 acre parcel of land at The Shops that included the mall/town center and the food court area. That application was approved by the Commission in April.
Sampson said there are currently no specific businesses in mind, but the rezoning allows the developer to expand their search to find new tenants.
Three undeveloped outparcels, located closer to State Route 95 between The Shops Boulevard and Airport Center Boulevard were also approved for rezoning by the commission on Wednesday. The lots were removed from the current Planned Development, and a new Planned Development was created to allow for more potential businesses.
All general commercial uses will be allowed in the new Planned Development except for storage units, warehousing and wholesale distribution, and outdoor storage uses, in addition to the prohibition of free standing signs along the highway.
The Development Services staff recommended that vehicle service or repair also be prohibited in the new Planned Development, but was ultimately scrapped by the commission after reviewing the various types of businesses that restriction would prohibit.
“If you look at any of the malls in the more metropolitan centers there is typically a Tire Pros or a Discount Tire that is associated with that on the out parcels,” Sampson said. “… So taking away the owner’s opportunity to attract another Big O Tires, Ron’s Tire Pros or one of those I think is something that may not be in his best interest, and it may not be in the best interest of the community. I think it is a business that if it is run well and kept clean it certainly can attract a lot of traffic out to that mall. Let’s face it, we all want traffic out at the mall.”
Chairman Jim Harris said he wouldn’t have a problem with a tire shop in those locations, but said a full mechanic shop may not be appropriate. Ultimately the provision was dropped, however, because heavy vehicle and equipment sales or service is a conditional use that would have to come back in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission in order to be approved.
Commissioners also discussed potentially removing medical marijuana dispensaries or infusion facilities from the list of allowable businesses on the outparcels. Sampson informed the commission of the process that such a facility would have to go through before being allowed to move into one of the lots, including gaining approval from the state. Although there are currently no plans for a medical marijuana dispensary in the area, Sampson asked that they not restrict such a business from the Planned Development.
“Cards on the table, we don’t have anyone that is coming there,” Sampson said. “As you can see those lots have been empty for the better part of 12 years. So my request would be if we could approve it without (the restriction) it would give us the opportunity to bring one more element that would potentially bring more traffic to the mall.”
Ultimately the commission agreed, and passed the rezoning without prohibiting a dispensary.