Boomtown Goes Bust

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Boomtown - the proposed Old West town-themed shopping and entertainment complex on Main Street - has gone bust.

A dispute over terms of the land purchase killed the project, which was to occupy a 2.5-acre site just west of Sawmill Crossing. Developer Leonard Will, who lives in the Valley, expressed disappointment.

“We’ve put a lot of time into it, but (Sawmill Crossing, which owns the site) just dealt a little too hard,” Will said.

The real estate contract between Will and Sawmill Crossing was contingent on the site being rezoned from low-cost housing to commercial.

“We were in process of getting the rezone, and I asked them for an extension on the contract and they said you have to forfeit your $5,000 earnest money and put another $5,000 down,” Will said. “That kind of wowed us away and we said no.”

Paul Peterson, attorney for Kaibab Industries (which owns Sawmill Crossing), said what his company requested is standard operating procedure.

“Nov. 19 was the closing date and he told us a while back that he would need an extra couple of months,” Peterson said. “We said we might be willing, but would need your earnest money to go hard.”

As that date approached, Peterson said Will called again and asked for four months and stated he wasn’t going to release the $5,000.

“Generally at some point earnest money becomes non-refundable,” Peterson said.

There were other issues involved that led Sawmill to believe the project wasn’t going to happen, according to Peterson.

“We had spent quite a bit of money responding to (Will’s) requests, and he made additional requests that were going to cost us a lot more money,” Peterson said.

After Sawmill paid for a survey and a phase 1 environmental report, Will asked the company to also pay for a soils report.

According to Peterson, the real estate contract specified that the soils report is the buyer’s responsibility.

“It’s a shame,” he said. “I thought it was an interesting project, but it was becoming less and less viable and we didn’t want to prolong it.”

Peterson said the site will most likely eventually be used for apartments.

“We still have 5 acres of commercial property south of the theater between the theater and Aero Drive that we need to develop,” he said. “It has frontage on the Beeline and Aero so it’s more commercially viable.”

As envisioned by Will, Boomtown would have featured 1890s territorial-style architecture and included a wedding chapel, restaurant, saloon and 19 smaller shops. He hoped to have the complex completed and open for business in the spring of 2003.

While disappointed, both sides seem to be taking the Boomtown bust in stride.

“Those things happen,” Will said. “We’ve moved on.”

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