Farm-home retailer Big R to open in former Portage Kmart this summer
A retail store specializing in farm, home, sporting and outdoor merchandise is expected to open by this summer in the former Portage Kmart location.
Officials of Big R Stores announced Friday that the building at 2935 New Pinery Road will be the company’s second Wisconsin store location. The other is in Burlington. Big R operates a total of 23 stores, with locations in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Jason Adamany, a partner in Lynn Holdings Inc., said he and partner Richard Lynn completed the sale of the 9.5-acre property Wednesday, but did not disclose the buyer or the purchase price.
Lynn Holdings still owns the remaining two lots — a 2.38-acre parcel where the Fashion Bug store was once located, and a 1.25-acre parcel to the south of the former Fashion Bug location — in an area that the city recently designated as a “pay-as-you-go” tax increment financing district.
That means that no developer can collect the proceeds stemming from increased property values in the district, to help offset development-related costs, until the valuation increase actually is realized.
In a news release issued Friday afternoon, Matt Whebbe, chairman and chief executive officer of Big R Stores, said the store will carry “pet and animal supplies, farm equipment, sporting goods, work wear, tools, lawn and garden supplies and a whole lot more.”
Work on the property is expected to start this spring, with the goal of opening the store in the summer, Whebbe said.
He said the Portage store will be the first Big R store with a new name and branding. All the stores will undergo the rebranding, he said.
According to the Big R Stores website, Bill and Pat Crabtree opened the first Big R store in 1964 in Watseka, Illinois, where the corporate headquarters is located. Watseka is the county seat of Iroquois County, population about 5,000, located about 15 miles west of the Illinois-Indiana state line. The stores remain family-owned and operated.
Whebbe said plans call for creating “dozens of high-quality jobs” in Portage as a result of the store’s locating in the city.
Lynn said in January that development of the remaining parcels in the tax increment district would depend greatly on development of the Kmart site. Artists’ conceptions of possible development scenarios include two new structures, at least one of which is expected to be a fast-food restaurant.
Kmart closed its doors in 2014, and its 86,000-square-foot space has been vacant since then. Fashion Bug closed in 2013, and all the storefronts in its building are vacant.