Camping World, a national RV dealership, has announced it is no longer interested in setting up an RV dealership in Killeen’s former Gander Mountain location, a city official said Tuesday.
City of Killeen Spokesperson Hilary Shine confirmed the announcement from the company on Tuesday, adding that the issue was withdrawn from the agenda of Tuesday night’s City Council workshop meeting.
“They said the site plan will not meet their needs,” Shine said by email on Tuesday, adding that the company did not indicate if it might be interested in opening a dealership at another Killeen location.
When pitching the prospect to the city last month of opening a new RV dealership at the old Gander Mountain property, Jay Moore, representing Camping World, said the RV dealership would have brought about 50 jobs to Killeen about $40 million in annual sales.
“What they would like to do is do RV sales, RV service and they also have a retail component and so that fits really nicely in this 52,000-square foot building. They’re going to cut it up and use every aspect of that as well as the parking lot,” Moore said at the Dec. 8 City Council meeting.
Calls to Moore and Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra on specifically why the company pulled out were not immediately returned Tuesday.
Gander Mountain was big news in Killeen when it opened to fanfare in 2015, and perhaps bigger news two years later when it closed. The still-new building has been used since as a seasonal Halloween costume store and, more recently, a temporary furniture store, but Killeen residents and business experts alike have pondered what more the location, along a prime time business corridor, could become.
The Killeen City Council has discussed the Camping World project at several recent meetings and workshops. At the Dec. 8 Killeen City Council meeting, the council voted 4-2 to not allow a rezoning request for the property, which prevented the project from moving forward. Some council members said they were concerned about traffic congestion in that area.
Later, at it’s Dec. 21 meeting, the City of Killeen Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve a conditional-use permit for the property located at 701 and 709 E. Central Texas Expressway, which was formerly Gander Mountain and closed down in 2017.
The conditional use permit, which was supported by Segarra, would have been contingent on several new conditions being met. These include eight more parking spots, light shielding on the parking lot perimeter, and a requirement of the conditional-use permit expiring after 180 days of no activity on the business, and others.
The council had originally planned to revisit the issue at its Tuesday workshop, and vote on the conditional-use permit on Jan. 12.
At City Hall late Tuesday, Councilmember Rick Williams reflected on the decision.
“It’s just unfortunate that it did not work out, after the work they put in to try and make it feasible,” he said before the council workshop meeting.
Councilmember Steve Harris, who voted initially in favor of the rezoning to approve the outlet, said Tuesday’s decision was a “huge disappointment.”
“That was an opportunity to get a business here that was diverse,” Harris said, adding that denying the rezoning was a mistake, and that he would have liked the chance to modify the conditions of the conditional use permit.”