Update 1/8: Comments on this post are closed. Please see the follow-up post.
There’s a large plot of vacant land in downtown Los Alamos, across Trinity Drive from Smith’s and the rest of the Mari-Mac Shopping Center. I believe it was formerly occupied by the school administration complex which has moved out past the airport.
The current plan to redevelop the parcel (awkwardly named Trinity Site — folks, there’s already one of those) is to build a new and bigger Smith’s along with some other unspecified retail; you can read about the gory details on the county’s website.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the project until I read Robert Gibson’s editorial in the January 1 Monitor (login required, sorry). He points out several problems, but here’s the one I find most troublesome. The root of the problem is that Smith’s (and its parent company, Kroger) already controls the entire Mari-Mac Shopping Center (the retail area surrounding Smith’s). I quote:
Kroger/Smith’s has declined to say what they would do with Mari-Mac but they have been clear that no competition with their new Marketplace store would be allowed.... [B]y controlling two very large parcels of prime land, Kroger/Smith’s would effectively have monopoly control of retail in Los Alamos. We should take charge of our own downtown, not make ourselves hostage to a remote corporate monolith.To be clear, the plan will grant Kroger, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, control over both Mari-Mac and the new Trinity Site, i.e., much of Los Alamos’ retail.
Sounds like a terrible idea to me. If the project goes forward with a Smith’s anchor in the new site, Kroger should be required to divest its interest in Mari-Mac. Or, we could just scrap the plan and do something better.
If you agree, please send your comments to the county. Kelly Stewart is collecting them at firstname.lastname@example.org (note that as of this writing, the e-mail address at the bottom of the county web page is incorrect).