[email protected] (Mark Glover)
Posted:  10/15/2013 5:39 PM

The planned December departure of Kmart from the Rivergate Shopping Center in Rancho Cordova will close the book on a 36-year run for the anchor store in that complex.

But center owner Ethan Conrad, head of Ethan Conrad Properties in Sacramento, sees things another way: He wants to transform Rivergate into a modern-looking, perpetually bustling shopping complex, luring customers along one of the Sacramento area’s busiest auto traffic routes.

“I think that, on a scale of one to 10, (Rivergate) has looked like a 2.5 or 3,” Conrad said of the shopping complex at Sunrise Boulevard and Coloma Road. “I want it to look like a 9 and 9.5, something that looks great, with national tenants. It’s going to be a benefit to the community. We’re hoping to quadruple (customer) traffic,”

The Kmart store, which opened at the site in March 1977, will close in mid-December. A liquidation sale is ongoing, and  officials of Kmart owner Sears Holdings Corp. said nearly 100 workers will have the opportunity to apply for positions at other Kmart and Sears stores. Conrad said he negotiated with Kmart officials on the terms of the lease termination at the site.

Conrad said about half of some 80,000 square feet left by Kmart will be taken up by Utah-based outdoor sporting goods retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse. With planned construction and a lease signed for a mid-February transfer, Conrad says he hopes the sporting goods outlet will be open on or about May 1 next year.

Conrad said an as-yet unnamed, nationally known grocery store tenant will go into nearly 30,000 square feet of vacated Kmart space.

Another lease has been signed with Scooter’s Coffee & Yogurt for a drive-thru site in the Rivergate complex. A nationally known “chicken specialty restaurant” also is in the pipeline for Rivergate, Conrad said.

Conrad purchased Rivergate two years ago and immediately embarked on plans to put a modern stamp on it, complete with a host of new tenants.

Recent arrivals include a Dollar Tree store. A Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, the Dallas-based chain that has been making a push to open franchises in the Sacramento area over the past two years, is scheduled to open soon.

“We’re excited about the tenants we have, and Rancho Cordova has been most supportive,” Conrad said.