By CARRIE STAMBAUGH
Kohl’s is officially coming to Melody Mountain.
Officials made the announcement late Tuesday after the national department store chain officially signed a lease agreement to locate in Ashland.
Kohl’s will join PetSmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods in the new development but will open a year behind those retailers in the fall of 2014.
Bo Gunlock, vice president of asset management for RG Properties, which owns Melody Mountain, explained: “They had filled up their store plans for 2013. We think it is important to have them as part of the center, and wait on them.”
Gunlock said the delay was “unavoidable” due to internal issues at Kohls.
“We did what we would to land them,” he said. “In order to do so, we asked them to sign now.”
Kohl’s has long been in discussions with RG properties to locate at Melody Mountain. In 2007, RG properties announced they had signed letter of intent from the retailer to locate in the development.
Kohl’s pulled out of the deal later that year, citing the faltering economy.
Phase two of Melody Mountain was subsequently delayed and another restaurant that had planned to locate on the development, Chili’s Grill and Bar, also pulled out of locating there.
The more than $12 million expansion of Melody Mountain is now back on track. Workers already having broken ground on the development. Both Dick’s and PetSmart will open before the Christmas shopping season, Gunlock said, stressing Kohl’s decision not to open its store until 2014 will not affect construction on the rest of the development.
City officials praised the news. Economic Development Director Chris Pullem said he was “pretty excited” about the announcement. He said the three new retailers will create a 400 permanent jobs when they are completed in addition to an estimated 350 short-term construction jobs.
“It’s another great accomplishment for Ashland’s citizens to have such a high quality store to patronize,” said Mayor Chuck Charles. He called it a “compliment to the community.”
Charles said he not see the delayed opening as a disappointment.
“I’m still excited about it. I want them to open as soon as possible but I understand business on the other side of the coin. We are going to work with then to succeed, if that is what they need to do to succeed, I am not disappointed,” he said.
Kohl’s was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wis. It has more than 1,000 stores in 49 states.
In 2009, Kohl’s had annual sales of $17.1 billion and is a S&P Fortune 500 Company.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653.