Leslie Turk

Burlington Coat, Gander Mountain eyeing old Kmart?

by Leslie Turk

The long-vacant Super Kmart building on Ambassador Caffery Parkway may soon get some much-needed attention. After years of vacancy, the almost 200,000-square-foot building has been purchased, and lease space is being advertised by Corporate Realty out of New Orleans. Now in deplorable physical condition -- and a shelter for countless drifters -- the building sits on about 20 acres just north of the Mall of Acadiana.

A phone message left for Corporate Realty's Larry Rabin was not returned before press time. Corporate Realty has not disclosed the name of the entity that now owns the building, and as of this morning the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's office had no record of a sale being recorded. The parish tax assessor's office lists Val T. Orton Trustee as the owner of the land, and 1995 K3-K4 Lafayette Louisiana Statutory Trust as the owner of the building.

Local real estate sources familiar with the deal say two likely tenants are Burlington Coat Factory of Burlington, N.J., which has long been interested in a Lafayette store, and St. Paul, Minn.-based Gander Mountain Co., which sells hunting, fishing, boating, camping, marine and outdoor products. Corporate Realty is advertising that the site has room for two to three outparcels and that the new owners are willing to subdivide and turnkey the space for the right collection of retailers.

Privately held by Bain Capital Partners, Burlington Coat is a national department store retail chain offering designer merchandise at prices up to 60 percent below those at other department stores. It has more than 394 stores in 44 states nationwide. Burlington Coat's public relations director, Audrey Shapiro, said this morning that she had no news about a possible Lafayette store but was expecting to receive a new store report by mid-week.

Publicly traded Gander Mountain Company is also the parent company of Overton's, a well-known catalog and Internet-based retailer of products for boating and other water sports. "Gander Mountain has nothing to announce regarding the possibility of opening a store in Lafayette," says Gander spokesman David Ewald.