A little bit of the country will be coming to eastern Lawrence’s newest retail center.
The national chain Tractor Supply Co. has signed a deal to become the first tenant in a new retail center near 23rd Street and O’Connell Drive.
The farm and home retailer plans to build a nearly 20,000-square-foot store south of Kansas Highway 10 between O’Connell and Franklin roads.
“This is a company that has had Lawrence on its radar screen for quite a while,” said Bill Newsome, who is leading the Lawrence group that is developing the retail area. “We’re excited to have them.”
Attempts to reach a representative of the Brentwood, Tenn.-based retailer weren’t immediately successful. But according to the company’s Web site, the stores aren’t just for farmers. Only about 10 percent of the company’s customer base are full-time farmers and ranchers. The majority of customers are rural or suburban homeowners who need various equipment or supplies to maintain their property.
The stores stock a variety of merchandise such as welders, generators, mowers, power tools, garden products, workwear, pet supplies, and fencing and livestock equipment, according to the Web site.
Newsome expects the store to generate more interest in the area from other retailers. The store will require two roads to be built to serve the property, which currently is farm and pasture ground.
“We think that will spur other demand and will push the demand closer to becoming reality,” Newsome said.
The property still has room for one large retailer and about a half-dozen other smaller retailers, according to plans filed with the city. Newsome said his group remains optimistic the large retail site will be filled by a grocery store.
Newsome said the smaller retail sites are good candidates for fast-food type of restaurants, and also for the types of neighborhood businesses that traditionally open next to grocery stores.
“As difficult as things are with the economy, we’re still getting phone calls about the property,” Newsome said. “It is well-situated. At the end of the day, I think people see there is a need for services out there.”
Representatives of Tractor Supply Co. recently have filed development plans with the city. Lawrence-Douglas County Planner Sandra Day said the property already has an industrial zoning that will allow the store to operate and also will allow the company to have certain amount of outdoor retail display space for items like fencing and livestock equipment.
The store is not expected to be a large enough traffic generator to require a stop light for the 23rd and O’Connell intersection, Day said.
Newsome said he believes the store would open next spring. Construction on the store and roads could begin in the next 45 days, he said.
The Tractor Supply development comes at the same time that Orscheln Farm and Home has filed plans to build a new store near its current location at 1541 E. 23rd Street. Day said those plans are still on track to receive city approval.