Bass Pro Shops is refuting claims by developers it signed a letter of intent to anchor the planned $172 million Riverview at Dobson project in Mesa.
Without a firm commitment from the sales tax-generating giant, a $42 million incentive package being negotiated between the city, the DeRito Partners and Kimco Developers could ratchet down, Mesa officials said.
Spokesmen for the developers said Tuesday they have reached an initial agreement with the Missouri-based sporting goods store, but could not release a copy of the document. "Normally when we sign a letter of intent, I'm notified to send out a press release," said Larry Whiteley, a spokesman for Bass Pro Shops.
"I have not been notified so I cannot say that's accurate," he said, regarding the developer's assertions of a signed letter. The Mesa City Council voted in August to start negotiating a development contract for the proposed retail, entertainment and office complex near the intersection of loops 101 and 202. Mike Hutchinson, Mesa's city manager, said a commitment from the national sporting goods store was paramount to cutting a deal with developers.
Typically, developers seek high profile retail stores to anchor projects and attract other stores, as well as shoppers. "If Bass Pro (Shops) isn't in the deal, this really changes the position of the city as far as incentives," said Mike Hutchinson, Mesa city manager.
"We've had conversations with Bass and we're working hard to bring them to Mesa and we think that this is where they want to be," Hutchinson said. "But I don't have any doubt in my mind that we will be able to put a deal together."
Mike Dunham, director of real estate for Bass Pro Shops, said he could not confirm whether or not the company had signed the letter.
"Until such time we are ready to make an announcement we do not disclose the status of ongoing real estate negotiations," he said. He said the company is negotiating with developers, but would not comment further. "There's a lot being worked on and there are a lot of different components to making a deal work," he said.
Mark Stanton, a spokesman for the DeRito Partners, said Tuesday he had not seen the letter of intent but said he was "one-hundred percent confident" there was one.
Last week, Tempe officials confirmed the Missouri-based company was looking at several sites in their city, including a major competitor to Mesa's Riverview project — the proposed Tempe Marketplace. Tempe began courting the sporting goods company about three years ago, but discussions heated up last week during the annual International Council of Shopping Centers in Palm Springs, Calif., city officials said.
The two cities have fought over high-profile retail stores in the past. Most recently they battled over IKEA. Like the Swedish furniture maker, officials with Mesa and Tempe say Bass Pro Shops would be a huge boost to their economies, drawing shoppers from as far away as Colorado and New Mexico.
Recently, East Valley municipalities who depend on sales taxes to sustain their operating budgets have battled over high-profile retail stores as well as auto malls.