Hobby Lobby may be coming to Emporia. Emporia Land Development, LLC, the developer of the proposed Emporia Pavilions retail project to be located at 24th Avenue and Industrial Road have announced that Hobby Lobby has agreed to be the anchor tenant.
“I wanted to let you all know that we have an anchor tenant,” Spencer Thomson with Thomson Walker said. “Hobby Lobby has signed a non-binding LOI to locate at the project.”
Originally, the development plans included a grocery store and home improvement store. After a market analysis was completed it was determined that the market was saturated with grocery stores.
Thomson says that the company has revamped their plans to improve on the earlier design. Changes include Hobby Lobby as an anchor tenant and other things that could be more pleasing to neighboring residents.
“There is much more green space and buffer between the commercial development and the neighboring residential,” Thomson said.
Emporia Land Development, LLC plans to appear at the city planning meeting Tuesday to discuss the project. They will discuss the project at that time and explain why the new plan is not a substantial deviation from the preliminary plan. The TIF needed for the project is decreasing by as much as $2 million as a result of lower costs associated with the new plan.
“We hope to be back in August for a hearing on our TIF application,” Thomson said.
Hobby Lobby was founded in 1970 by David and Barbara Green. They began by making miniature picture frames in their garage. In 1972, the Green family opened the first Hobby Lobby store with just 300 square feet of retail space.
Hobby Lobby Stores, inc. is headquartered in Oklahoma City. There are now over 650 stores across the nation. Hobby Lobby ioffers more than 70,000 arts, crafts, hobbies, home decor, holiday and seasonal products.
The Emporia location would be the 15th Hobby Lobby store located in the state of Kansas.
“We are very excited about this as Hobby Lobby is an excellent company with strong financials, steady growth and, interestingly, the founder, David Green, was born in none other than Emporia,” Thomson said.
The company has gained nationwide attention after engaging in several lawsuits related to health insurance requirements for employees. The company did not want to comply with the Health and Human Service Mandate requiring contraceptive coverage on employee health plans saying that it did not coincide with the Christian beliefs of the company founders.
The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. At this time Hobby Lobby has opted out of providing coverage for birth control in employee health insurance plans.
The developers say that the already approved preliminary development plan is being greatly improved with the latest changes and addresses many of the most significant concerns raised in the past including:
^Much greater green space area and buffer between the commercial development and the neighborhoods to the north and east (the new plan has approximately 11 acres of contiguous green space serving as buffer).
^ In lieu of one very large building for a home improvement store the plan has several different retail users of varying sizes comprising approximately 8,000 less in total square footage. The large lumber yard area nearer to the property line is removed.
^ The new plan is more aesthetically pleasing and will be more attractive from a design and architectural standpoint as a result of the above described changes.
^ No changes to points of public access or utilities is occurring.
^ All of the improvement to the development plan are in substantial compliance with the already approved preliminary plan.