City makes plans for new department store in Pratt

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Pratt City commissioners have met twice already in June for discusssions concerning the possible store addition of Burkes Outlet in Pratt.
A possible location for Burkes Outlet in Pratt is the former Walmart store front, just east of Tractor Supply, on 1801 East lst Street.

A proposed Burkes Outlet store in the currently vacant east section of the original Walmart building in the 1800 block of East First Street in Pratt brought much discussion to Pratt City Commission agendas in the first week of June.

Pratt city commissioners met twice in regular session the week of June 7 to consider a single agenda item presented by Mark Morgan on behalf of the Pratt Area Economic Development Corporation.

Mayor Gary Schmidt presided for both sessions with the full slate of city commissioners during which no official city action was taken.

The economic development discussion centered on the proposed Burkes Outlet store in the vacant approximately 22,000+/- square-foot east section of the original Walmart building in the 1800 block of East First Street, adjacent to Tractor Supply Company, with a target opening date this fall.

Morgan told commissioners that the $150,000 grant request, from an undisclosed local developer on behalf of the out-of-state corporation, exceeds Pratt Economic Development Corporation’s $100,000 grant guidelines.

“According to our scoresheet, they scored at $50,000,” Morgan said. “I don’t know if we just give them $50,000, if they’ll still come.”

With city dollars providing 50 percent of the support for Pratt EcoDeVo’s funding resources, Morgan said he was seeking city commissioners’ views regarding the full request for $150,000.

An information sheet outlining the Burkes Outlet proposal estimates the investment to remodel the vacated east section of the building with a new entrance, new restrooms and new air conditioning at +/- $750,000.

City Manager Bruce Pinkall said abatement of asbestos in tile glue would also likely be required, increasing that investment cost.

Commissioners at their regular Monday session discussed pros of the proposed Burkes Outlet, one of which is anticipated increased city sales tax revenue, based on the draw of area residents the new business could be expected to generate.

Upon learning from Morgan that the Pratt Area Economic Development Corporation members would be meeting in two days’ time at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9, in City Hall Commission Chambers, city commissioners’ decision was unanimously made to recess the Monday city commission meeting to reconvene at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to join the EcoDevo meeting chaired by Morgan with Hamm as the presenter.

“I wasn’t expecting to see commission here,” Hamm said, as he addressed the gathering. “It’s good to have everybody around the same table.”

Morgan said one of the considerations regarding honoring Burkes Outlet request is “How bad do we want to see Burkes come in?”

“And that’s the question—that IS the question,” Hamm responded. “Do we want to have another good retailer in town that draws more people to the community and brings more sales tax to the community?”

“Sales tax, I think, is the biggest asset that’s going to bring the revenue into this community,” Hamm said. “The question is: How bad do we want it?”

Eco Devo Board Member Doug Meyer, who last December completed two three-year terms on the Pratt City Commission, including two years as mayor, also advocated on behalf of the funding request for Burkes Outlet at the Wednesday afternoon city commission session.

Pratt City commissioners will next meet in regular session at 5 p.m. Monday, June 21, at Pratt City Hall Commission Chambers, 619 South Main, open to the public in keeping with any COVID-19 regulations that might be in place on that meeting date.