What’s Bugging You, Eastern Sierra?
In any small town, rumors can swirl and tempers can flare when it comes to certain topics. Sometimes, the game of telephone can mean that the truth gets stretched so far it becomes something else entirely. Here at Eastern Sierra Now, we pride ourselves on solving the biggest issues concerning our readers, and that’s why we decided to make a column where we address the biggest issues we find on local forums and seek out the answers for you.
Recently, we noticed a lot of chatter (and some arguing) online about what is happening in the vacant Kmart buildings on Main Street in Bishop. On a Facebook page called “Butt-hurt Owens Valley” someone asked about what’s coming to town to replace them.
Someone replied “Nothing. Just another big empty building. Our city council doesn’t care if people want actual department stores so they can actually see what they are buying.”
Another said “An indoor shooting range.”
Someone else said “Trader Joe’s would be nice!!” Indeed it would, fellow Facebooker.
There seems to be all sorts of speculation, and that is why we decided to reach out to Jim Ellis, the Mayor himself, to find out what’s really going on. Here is what he said:
Thank you for the questions.
Sometimes the stories on social media seem to take off and have answers that are not even close to reality. So, why are these buildings empty? In short, Albertsons/Vons. There are 2 properties (Vons/Kmart1200 N Main St) and (Taco Bell/Kmart 910 N Main St). The Vons/Kmart location is currently leased from SAR Asset Management and the Kmart Corporation holds the lease. Kmart has entertained subleasing the location, but there are some deed restrictions on that property held by Albertsons/Vons that limit grocery sales to 6,500 sf, and barring bakery or pharmaceutical sales. These restrictions deter big box retailers such as Target/Walmart, and basically completely block grocery retailers.
The property to the south of Vons has been sold and there is a developer is currently working with a company to do an extended stay hotel format business. That is in the planning/negotiation stages. The Taco Bell/Kmart location is also hand tied by deed restrictions from Albertons/Vons, and is currently leased by the same. The owner of the property and Albertson/Vons have been in negotiations with 2 national retailers and that sounds like it is close to approval. We have been told that these 2 retailers should be operating within 18-24 months should there be no stumbles.
We would love to have these empty building occupied and see the economic rewards from lost sales tax revenue. We would also like to see the added employment and shopping opportunities for the citizens of Bishop, but the City of Bishop has limited options to intercede on privately owned properties.
Thank you for your questions,
Mayor, City of Bishop
So there you have it. He may not have given us all the information that we wanted, but we definitely have more than we had before.
Thank you to Mayor Jim Ellis for answering our questions.
Questions courtesy of