Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

Skating Rink at Northcross says RG4N's putting them on ice

The ice-skating children, that is. Yesterday, Chaparral Ice - the folks that operate the Northcross ice-skating rink, popular for its children's skating and hockey leagues, anchoring the few remaining tenants at Northcross Mall - sent out a press release describing how they've been "caught in the crossfire" between Wal-Mart and Responsible Growth for Northcross.

"A threatened court injunction seeking to halt the opening of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at the site by … RG4N and local neighborhood associations will interrupt the locally owned ice-skating business’ longstanding plan to move their current operations at Northcross to a standalone rink at the site this August," says Chaparral President Charles Collins in the release, warning the injunction will cost him "up to a million dollars," putting Chaparral on ice - bankrupt ice. You see, they apparently planned to move into the vacant Bealls department store in Northcross prior to the controversy and now fear if RG4N succeeds, they'll be out.

“We want all those who are contributing to RG4N’s litigation against the city of Austin and Lincoln Properties to know that they are helping to fund the possible bankruptcy of at least one of the local businesses they claim to be protecting,” says Collins. Burn!

Full release below the fold.

Chaparral Ice finds itself in Northcross crossfire

Chaparral Ice Center, LP. now finds itself at the center of the developing conflict surrounding Northcross Mall. A threatened court injunction seeking to halt the opening of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at the site by Responsible Growth for Northcross, or RG4N, and local neighborhood associations will interrupt the locally-owned ice skating business’s longstanding plan to move their current operations at Northcross to a standalone rink at the site this August, according to Chaparral President Charles Collins. He says any such injunction will cost his company up to a million dollars in investments already made into the expansion and losses in revenue during the company’s peak season from September to March. These losses, Collins says, could force Chaparral into bankruptcy.

Collins says his company’s intention to open a standalone facility in the former Bealls Department Store building at Northcross Mall predates Wal-Mart’s plans to open a new Supercenter there as well as the resultant furor of neighborhood groups at the proposed redevelopment plan. “We signed a lease with Lincoln Properties in July of 2006 to open the new rink, well before the formation of RG4N and the galvanization of local neighborhood associations,” Collins says. “We have invested in the project and signed contracts with several of our vendors as well, contingent on this agreement.” Like Chaparral, he says these vendors are family-run businesses. “Not only would an injunction cause severe losses to our business and investments during the prime season in which we are host to sports leagues and our highest recreational traffic of the year, it would also force us to cancel those contracts with our vendors while our move into the new facility is tied up in court.”

Collins says that RG4N, which claims on its website that it wants to prevent the “loss to small businesses” has failed to approach Chaparral Ice or several other current tenants of Northcross to solicit their input on the proposed redevelopment plan. “We want all those who are contributing to RG4N’s litigation against the City of Austin and Lincoln Properties to know that they are helping to fund the possible bankruptcy of at least one of the local businesses they claim to be protecting,” he says. “It’s not that we are defending Wal-Mart or even that we disagree with RG4N’s desire to see a mixed-use development of the site in principle. We only wish for them to consider our concerns, and other tenants’ concerns, and amend their legal course of action accordingly.”

Chaparral Ice operated the ice rink at Northcross from 1998 to 2001 and then resumed operations at Northcross in 2004. The rink, located at the center of the retail complex, is a longtime fixture of the mall. It is currently host to more than 200,000 recreational visitors each year as well as youth hockey leagues, figure-skating classes and shows, clubs, and special events. They currently employ an average of 40 people and the Collins family members have resided in both Crestview and Allandale, the two neighborhoods adjacent to Northcross, since 1958.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Wal-Mart, Politics, Growth & Development, Responsible Growth, Northcross, Chaparral Ice

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