Raj Immadisetty remembers a time when residents in his Farmington neighborhood had plenty of reasons to walk around Drakeshire Plaza, visiting stores and restaurants.
He and his partners in DIC Properties LLC want to bring that "walkable" atmosphere back to the shopping center, which fell into disrepair before they purchased it earlier this year. They shared that vision with city council members Monday, during a presentation requested after officials on Oct. 15 approved a special assessment agreement to fix code violations on the property.
Council members JoAnne McShane and Bill Galvin opposed the agreement, through which the city would issue $400,000 bonds that would be repaid over seven years.
Immadisetty stressed that the partners would not have purchased the property if they didn't believe they could make it work. He said they have funds to cover interior build-outs for new tenants, but would not have been able to afford them if they had to pour cash into the exterior work.
"We are confident we can turn the property into a good thing," he said. "Even though we're in the community, we have to invest our money safely."
He said the partners hope to leave the shopping center to their children some day, and they believe the property could be worth $4 million-$5 million when it is fully renovated and occupied.
But even at 40-50 percent occupancy, Drakeshire would be breaking even or beginning to turn a profit, Immadisetty said.
Immadisetty said major retailers have expressed interest in the center, which is represented by Landmark Leasing Co., but have been reluctant to commit until they know the timeline for the façade improvements. Partner Prasad Chitturi said DIC Properties may, in a year or two, open its own amusement center and banquet hall. Plans include installing a patio along one side of the building.
Galvin encouraged the partners to be visible in the community and supportive of community events. "Essentially, your neighbors are loaning you dollars," he said.
"I want to compliment you on your insight, your decisions and your vision," said council member Greg Cowley, who supported the agreement. "Even with the purchase price and improvements, the property is a good investment."