Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 8, 2013

Melody Mountain ribbon-cutting set

ASHLAND — A ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for next month for the new phase of development on Melody Mountain.

The program will be at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 7, according to an email from the Ashland Alliance. Speakers will include Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles and Chris Pullem, the city’s economic development director.

It’s not yet clear whether the ribbon-cutting will coincide with the openings of Dick’s Sporting Goods and PetSmart, currently the only two occupants of the development. Pullem said Friday the stores weren’t prepared to commit to that, and the ceremony was intended as a celebration of construction of the development being completed.

However, according to Pullem, if the stores aren’t open in time for the ribbon-cutting, they most certainly will be soon thereafter. “Worst-case scenario” is a couple of weeks after the ceremony, he said.

Dick’s and PetSmart will definitely be open in time for the 2013 Christmas shopping season, which was the goal all along of Bo Gunlock, vice president of asset management for Ohio-based RG Properties, which owns the Melody Mountain development.

Pullem said it was his understanding Dick’s had just had its final walk-through inspection by the city and was awaiting “just some final fit-out” before being stocked with merchandise.

The Dick’s location is about 50,000 square feet, while PetSmart is about 12,500 square feet. Two smaller stores will also eventually locate in development.

Pullem said Friday it was understanding that RG Properties had secured tenants for the smaller spaces, but wasn’t ready to announce who they were. Gunlock was out of his office Friday, according to a message on his voicemail, and could not be reached for comment.

The stores in the development will be joined next fall by a Kohl’s department store. The 55,000 square-foot store will be on the eastern-most edge of the development. The Wisconsin-based retailer will be opening a year behind Dick’s and PetSmart because it had already filled up its store plans for 2013.  

In all, the development represents a more than $10 million investment in Ashland and is expected to create more than 300 permanent jobs. The new development also will be bring the total amount of developed retail space on Melody Mountain to more than 350,000 square feet.

RG Properties had intended to start work on the second phase of development in 2007, soon after the opening of the new Walmart on Melody Mountain. However, the onset of the Great Recession caused those plans to be placed on the back burner.

Pullem said he was hopeful past members of the Ashland Board of City Commissioners and other elected officials who were in office during Melody Mountain’s years-long transformation from wilderness to retail space will attend next month’s ribbon-cutting “so we can honor them for the work they’ve done.”

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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