Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 7, 2013

PetSmart, Dick’s on the way to Melody Mountain

ASHLAND — Dick’s Sporting Goods and PetSmart are coming to Melody Mountain, along with another large retailer to be announced in the coming days.

The new retailers are expected to open for business before the Christmas shopping season and will bring approximately 300 permanent jobs to Ashland along with creating 75 jobs during construction, according to the site’s developers.

In addition, officials announced this week Shogun Japanese Grill will open in the former Five Guys Burgers and Fries location.

Bo Gunlock, vice president of asset management for RG Properties, which owns the Melody Mountain development, announced the names of the highly anticipated retailers at Thursday afternoon’s Ashland Board of City Commissioners meeting. He said the name of the third retailer, which will occupy a more than 55,000-square-foot store on the eastern-most edge of the development, will be announced next week.

“When we are able to announce this third retailer I think the excitement will only grow. We will be able to offer a broader assortment of goods to the community without having to travel out of town to buy it,” Gunlock said.

The Dick’s location will be approximately 50,000 square feet, while PetSmart will occupy 12,500 square feet. Several additional smaller stores will eventually locate in the new development in an area of about 3,200 square feet Gunlock said. “That is down the road,” he said. “We anticipate two smaller users — one 1,200 square feet another 3,200.” 

 In all, the new development will bring the total amount of developed retail space on Melody Mountain to more than 350,000 square feet.

Second-phase development will also include the completion of a sidewalk from Ashland Town Center to Melody Mountain and improvements to the intersection of U.S. 23 and Riverhill Drive and the four-way intersection entering Walmart and the new development. The changes will substantially improve motorist and pedestrian safety, according to Gunlock.  

In all, the new development is a more than $10 million investment in Ashland. Walmart has donated $50,000 to the project to be used for completion of the sidewalk. It is likely to be constructed in April or May, Gunlock said.

Construction is expected to begin on site work in the coming days. Local contractor Light’s Enterprises will do site development work, according to Gunlock.

The contract for construction of the buildings has not been awarded, but Gunlock said the process will begin later this month, with a company selected around March 15.

Gunlock acknowledged his company originally expected to begin construction last fall, but “that was probably a little unrealistic. We’re eternal optimists in our business, but we’re going to finish the same time we expected to. That means we’re going to condense the actual construction project. More people will be up there working for a shorter duration.”

Gunlock was complimentary of city staff members in helping remove some of the barriers to the development.

“We have never worked in a community, in a market that has been more cooperative and easy to work with — taking care of roadblocks and issues that have come up, some bigger than others. ... It’s been a really terrific experience. In today’s economic development environment, eliminating those nonfinancial kind of red-tape issues that your staff has been willing and able to do make all the difference to promote economic development in your community,” he told elected officials.

“You should be really proud of the work they have done, and we’re really pleased to be in the city.”

Gunlock said there will be no future phases on Melody Mountain. The site is out of space, and remaining acreage is too rocky to build on without blasting. He said the company doesn’t want to blast with retailers operating nearby.

The new Shogun restaurant will open on Melody Mountain in the coming months. Shogun, which has a location in Barboursville, serves traditional Japanese cuisine, including hibachi, sushi, tempura and udon.  “We will open as soon as we can,” said owner Xiu “May” Gao. “Right now we are remodeling.”

Gao is applying for an alcohol license. The Ashland location, she said, made sense because so many of her customers in Barboursville are from the Ashland area.

The business will be hiring new servers, but Gao could not give an estimate on the number of new employees.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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