Foursquare Properties Inc., the prospective buyer of struggling mall Bellevue Center, on Thursday filed redevelopment plans for the mall with the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Commission.
Foursquare officials said closure of the sale is pending only on approval of the plans by the Commission. The plans had to be filed by 3 p.m. Thursday to be included on the agenda of the Planning Commission’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 25.
California-based Foursquare hopes to purchase the mall for redevelopment. According to plans first presented at a public meeting two weeks ago, Foursquare intends to raze the entire structure except for the anchor space where Macy’s and Sears currently operate.
The mall and 70-acre site is owned by Oaktree Capital, also based in California, and has been for sale with an asking price of about $21 million. The $100 million-plus redevelopment project would turn the mall into an open-air lifestyle center.
The plans are slightly different from what has been released to the public. No tenants are named. Specific square footages for individual buildings are specified, but Nashville-based Foursquare spokesperson Andrea Mills said those square footages are not intended to be exact.
“They’re not married to any square footage,” Mills said.
They applied for 80-90 percent of the maximum square footage so they “do not confine themselves” to specific retailers within the categories they’ve identified for each building, she said.
The largest structure identified in the plans is a 184,000-square-foot retail building, which industry sources say indicates Foursquare is working to secure a contract with a “superstore” like Target or Wal-Mart.
The second largest building, which is a little more than half that size, is big enough to accommodate what some speculators hope will be a Cabela’s store. The plans also include six “restaurant pads,” which Foursquare has confirmed are intended to be devoted primarily to “sit-down” establishments.
In total, the submitted plans call for 1,142,726 square feet of retail space.
Jeff Vitek, president of the company, said in a Thursday statement that Foursquare is still working to refine its plans for a large public space near the center of the mall property in time for the Planning Commission meeting.
Vitek said in the statement that the biggest difference between Thursday’s filing and previously announced plans is the height of a buffer wall on the North side of the property, along Westfield Drive. The proposed height of that wall has been increased in accordance with conversations with neighbors, Vitek said in the statement.
Craig Owensby, spokesperson for the Planning Commission, said the filing is technically a request for a revision of Bellevue Center’s plan for unit development (PUD). If members of the commission consider the plans to be a true revision — meaning that changes are consistent with the character or general idea of what has already been approved — then approval from the commission is the only government step necessary for the new PUD to be approved.
The Commission could decide, however, that the proposed changes are big enough that alterations of the PUD should be considered an amendment, rather than a revision. In that case, the plans would need to be approved by Metro Council. The earliest that approval from Metro Council could be achieved would, in that case, be Jan. 15 of next year.
Approval of the mall’s PUD is the only governmental hurdle remaining for the sale to be closed, Foursquare said. The deal does not hinge on approval from Metro’s Industrial Development Board (IDB), which is the authority that could facilitate tax increment financing (TIF) for a portion of the project. Funds made available by TIF would, according to Foursquare attorney James Weaver of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in Nashville, make possible “the upgrades, the extras,” that community members want, including a high-quality community center near the center of the site, as well as more sidewalks and street lights.