By Laurie Bassett-Edmonds
RAYMORE – City Manager Jim Feuerborn called it the city’s “worst kept secret,” during the City Council work session Monday evening, that Chick-Fil-A would like to build a restaurant at the corner of Foxwood Drive and Kentucky Road in the parking lot area of the China Star restaurant.
Realty Income Corporation, an out-of-state entity, owns the property and leases it to China Star – a lease that has four years remaining.
Chick-Fil-A would like to strike a deal for the front corner of the three-acre site, according to city staff, a deal that would include re-doing the parking lot and making changes to facilitate traffic flow.
Feuerborn listed multiple code violations and examples of blight just on the exterior of the property — including a tree growing through the foundation of the building, an overflowing sewer drainpipe, a hot water heater outside, and a sinkhole forming on the lot.
He went on to say that there have been tenant violations with the Cass County Health Department, a report he called a “fascinating read.” City violations are shared between the tenant and the property owners, said Feuerborn, but the food, leakage, and odor issues are all on the tenant.
He also said that there are likely violations of Fire Code. Those, if they exist, are enforced by the South Metro Fire Protection District.
According to David Gress, Raymore’s economic development director, Realty Income Corporation would like to see Chick-Fil-A on the property. However, China Star’s lease grants the restaurant access to the entire parking lot. It would require a modification to the lease with China Star in order for Chick-Fil-A to build on the location, and the existing restaurant’s management has not agreed to make any changes.
Feuerborn noted that during a recent snowstorm, China Star didn’t even plow the portion of the lot that Chick-Fil-A would like to utilize, and Gress distributed a sketch of the proposed layout, which featured both the existing restaurant as well as a proposed Chick-Fil-A.
Feuerborn explained that having a blight study done for the property would put the city in a position to move quickly with its part of a plan for incentives once an agreement is worked out between the landlord and tenant of the site. He said that Chick-Fil-A has indicated that it will be looking for those incentives, not a TIF, but rather a more minimal plan to remediate the blight on the property, Feuerborn said.
Feuerborn said that this is the most underutilized piece of property with existing development in the city — not its "highest and best use."