Fantasy’s soon to be a fantasy

Fantasy%27s+sign

Photo by Grant Harrison.

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Fantasy's sign
Photo by Grant Harrison.

 A portion of this story was omitted in the Oct. 25 edition of The West Wind. The story is written in its entirety here.

Every day, dozens of students from Bellevue West frequent Fantasy’s, the convenience store and gas station on the corner of 15th and Cornhusker. But with plans announced by developers to replace the store with a strip mall, students will soon find the cornershop a fading memory.

Prospective purchaser Thackeray Companies plans to redevelop the lot–now named Thunderbird Plaza–and replace Fantasy’s with a 9,100 square foot building containing four or five small retail shops, according to the Bellevue Planning Commission’s minutes record.

The proposed building will be one story, face towards Cornhusker, host restaurants and contain other establishments “beneficial for the area,” Larry Forman, representative for Thackery Companies, said.

“I think it’ll be a positive change for the community,” Forman said.

Though he couldn’t confirm any other businesses (many aspects of the development are contingent on the uncompleted rezoning process), Forman confirmed a Taco Bell will be developed. Though some students are eager for the change, others have reservations about the change of businesses.

“There are a lot of kids that go [to Fantasy’s] after school or before school. I wouldn’t mind it, but I’d still like a gas station there instead,” senior Adam Thomas said.

The Bellevue Planning Commission approved rezoning of the one acre lot on Sept. 26, and the proposal will continue to the city council for public hearing on Oct. 28. Approval would mean clearance to proceed with the project, signalling the go ahead for Thackery Companies to purchase and redevelop the land.

“We did go to the planning commission last month and got unanimous permission. The main hurdle is to get through the rezoning process,” Forman said.

Rezoning will allow the lot to change from a heavy manufacturing zone (MH) to a general business zone (BG), facilitating retail and service establishments like the strip mall Thackery Companies proposes to build.

Without proper zoning it can be difficult for a business to refinance or receive loans, and rebuilding after a fire or other calamity would be impossible, according to the Bellevue Planning Department.

Traffic flow would likely not increase with the proposed new development. Both the Public Works Director and the Superintendent of Bellevue Public Schools, Frank Harwood, did not see any potential issues with traffic flow, according the Planning Commission’s report of its Sept. 26 meeting.

For comparison, the intersection of 36th Street and Highway 370 sees daily an estimated 33,000 vehicles, whereas approximately 12,200 vehicles travel daily on Cornhusker Road between Highway 75 and Fort Crook Road, according to the 2010 MAPA Traffic Flow Map.

Traffic en route to the school passes by Bellevue West’s sign–the electronic message board for time, weather and other information located on the Southeast end of the lot. Forman assured the sign will not be affected by construction.

“We want to be a good neighbor with West. I have a warm spot in my heart for Bellevue West,” Forman said.

Still, many students enjoy the services the cornershop offers.

“We need it because that’s the place for after school to get food, or if you have a car, gas. We already have plenty of fast food places around like Arby’s, Sonic and all that. We need the gas station,” Ganster said.

Junior Stephanie Keller says she visits Fantasy’s about twice a week and enjoys the establishment for its convenience and customer service.

“They’re really close to my house–quick and easy. Their prices are pretty good and they’re friendly. I think they get a lot of business,” Keller said.

Fantasy’s, Inc. declined to comment on this story.

Grant Harrison
Commentary Editor