Plans for go-cart track at old Wal-Mart halted

The old Wal-Mart building has been vacant for six years.

When Brian Bradshaw announced in April he planned to open a
go-cart track at the former Wal-Mart, Gilroyans thought they had
seen the last of the 126,000-square-foot eyesore.
When Brian Bradshaw announced in April he planned to open a go-cart track at the former Wal-Mart, Gilroyans thought they had seen the last of the 126,000-square-foot eyesore.

But since the news broke, plans have halted with Bradshaw focusing on his current business, Sea-Tek Precision Machined Products in Morgan Hill, leaving the boarded-up 7900 Arroyo Circle building unoccupied.

It’s been five years since Wal-Mart moved to its new 219,570-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter location at 7150 Camino Arroyo and concerns for filling the old building, which opened in 1993, are three-fold: little interest, fallen deals and lack of communication between the city and the new property owner, Hudson Jones Commercial Real Estate.

“The economy has definitely been having an effect,” said Dan Hudson, the building’s new owner. “We’ve turned down some proposals at the request of the city or because they were not long-term solutions.”

When Hudson Jones purchased the property – located just off Highway 101 next to the Gilroy Premium Outlets – from Wal-Mart in 2007, they had no idea it would be so difficult to lease.

“These old Wal-Marts are big,” said Richard Spitler, president of the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation. “In a good economic climate it would be pretty easy to get someone in there, but it’s too big for most.”

While Spitler and City Planning Technician Kelly Ramirez knew of the go-cart plans and an interested flea market-type applicant that never submitted a contract to the owner or city for review, they have not been in communication with Jones about new development plans.

Spitler hasn’t heard of any recent applicants since Burlington Coat Factory dropped their interest in the site for their present 10th Street location.

“Nothing seems to be going forward, why I don’t know,” said Ramirez.

Hudson is aware of Bradshaw’s interest in the site, but stressed no deals have been made. According to Spitler, who had been working with Bradshaw on a letter of intent to the city in April, the go-cart plans have halted, at least temporarily.

“My understanding is that he is still working on his business plan and will seek potential investors,” said Spitler.

“He has been busy with his own business and has not been able to focus on the go-cart project.”

Bradshaw declined to comment.

In an effort to better market the building to potential tenants, Hudson filed a formal appeal with the County Assessor’s office in September 2009 regarding the assessed values on the property. According to David Ginsborg, deputy to the assessor, the assessed value in 2005 was $8,000,000, an amount that has increased about 2 percent each year. Today, the value is set at $8,638,931.

Hudson has yet to receive a response to the appeal.

Gilroy Planner Melissa Durkin told the Dispatch in 2007 that Hudson had no plans to keep the building vacant, but said she also does not know why he has not found a tenant yet.

Though Hudson could not give specifics as to what businesses are currently interested in the site, he said the search for a new tenant has been an ongoing process.

“We’ve been working on deals steadily since the building was vacated, but it’s still available,” said Hudson, who has loaned out the building over the years for temporary use to the fire and police departments, for charity events and a haunted house.

“We’d like to find the right merchant and we’ve been working with various groups, but it’s a long-term decision,” he said.

Though Spitler does not anticipate any planning issues with the property, he said a traffic study might be required if the new business were to average more than 100 customer trips per day.

“I intend to talk with the owners to better understand the circumstances and then hope to market it appropriately,” he said.

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