Purchaser Lined Up For Wal-Mart Building

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The current Wal-Mart building in Payson will not suffer the same fate as some other vacated Wal-Marts when the company's Supercenter opens later in the year.

It's not going to be empty long, according to Jeff Geyser of Lawrence and Geyser Development Co. of Tempe.

The building is in escrow to the Valley development company, former owners of the shopping center down the road from Wal-Mart that once housed the IGA.

Geyser said his development company has pursued the purchase of the Wal-Mart location since last fall. He said he has money down on the property and 60 days after Wal-Mart has moved out to come up with the rest of the cash.

"We have the money ready to go," he said. "There is nothing that would keep us from going ahead with the deal.

"If they have it vacated by the first of the year, hopefully we'll have tenants moving in before summer. We have three or four tenants we've done business with before who are interested in moving in -- that's basically what we do. We really like doing business in small towns. We're not buying it to have it sit empty."

He said he understands that the area needs clothing and furniture stores and an office supply shop and offered these as possibilities for the types of businesses that would go into the building. He said he has a list of possible tenants who are looking for the small-town, upscale-type of business that Payson would provide.

"Whoever the tenants are will be compliant with the other tenants there," he said.

Geyser said Wal-Mart was obviously not interested in selling to anyone who would put in a Target or a K-Mart. "Other than that, they don't have a lot of restrictions," he said.

Lawrence and Geyser Development Co. has, at one time or another, owned as many as 17 shopping centers in Arizona, California and Oklahoma, Geyser said. The company now owns 10 shopping centers in Arizona and California.

The Payson Wal-Mart building is the first the company has considered buying from the mega-corporation. Geyser said the close proximity to the Valley and the relative ease of transporting goods up the Beeline Highway makes purchasing the building a good business venture.

Geyser said he was pleased with his earlier business experience in Payson and is looking forward to purchasing the property on approximately seven acres at Manzanita and Highway 260. "That intersection is a great place to do business," he said.

While Payson can look forward to a continuing flow of shoppers where Wal-Mart now sits, other communities have not been so fortunate.

Empty buildings
In Belen and Ruidoso, N.M. and in Show Low, all sites of Supercenters, the former Wal-Mart buildings sit empty. In the New Mexico stores, the buildings have been vacant for over a year. Show Low, site of the state's first Supercenter, has been operating for three months.

The former Wal-Mart building in Show Low, once the anchor of a busy shopping center, has been empty for six months.

Although he has received no firm date on when the building he plans to purchase will be vacated, Geyser estimates that the Wal-Mart employees will be out of their building and into the new Supercenter by October, in time for the Christmas rush.

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