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Real Estate - Commercial

Oleander Drive Movie Theater Under Contract With Development Firm

By Cece Nunn, posted May 20, 2015
The former Carmike Cinema property on Oleander Drive is under contract to a real estate development firm. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
No movies have played there for a long time, but the former Carmike Cinema property on Oleander Drive could be showing a new use in the next six months to a year.

An unnamed real estate development company has placed the 6-acre tract at 5335 Oleander Drive, which includes the movie theater building that’s been closed since 2006, under contract, said Rick Whitfield, vice chancellor of business affairs for the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

As a result of a confidentiality agreement, neither Whitfield nor Steve Warwick, co-founder and principal broker of Maus, Warwick, Matthews & Co., who is handling the transaction for the seller, could share any other details about the buyer, the potential sale or the buyer’s intentions.

“We are in a due-diligence period in which the potential buyer has six months to evaluate the property for whatever their intended purposes for the use of the property will be,” Whitfield said Wednesday.

After that six-month period, the deal could close within 30 days, but the potential buyer also has the option to extend the due diligence period at least another three months at the firm's own cost, he said.

One of UNCW’s associated entities, UNCW Corporation Oleander One LLC, owns the property, having bought it from Carmike Cinemas Inc. in December 2005 for $2.5 million, according to New Hanover County property tax records. The current listing price is $2.9 million, though that is not necessarily the exact figure the potential buyer might pay, Whitfield said.

Through an operating agreement, UNCW used the lot at 5335 Oleander Drive for parking because of a high demand for spots, Whitfield said, but a new parking deck on campus helped meet that demand when the deck was built in 2009. He said after the corporation tried to lease the property for several years with no success, university management recommended that the property be put up for sale, and the associated entity’s board agreed.

“It had no long-term strategic purpose, and the chancellor at the time [Gary Miller] was looking to consolidate all operations on the main campus,” Whitfield said.

While associated entities for UNCW are guided by UNC system policy, they are allowed to operate with more flexibility in terms of business transactions and building rules, Whitfield said.

Any extra cash from the sale of the Oleander Drive property that’s not used to pay off the debt would go toward what’s owed for UNCW's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at 620 S. College Road. The same UNCW-associated entity owns that property, bought for $1.4 million from Wiggins LLC in October 2006, according to county property tax records. That property is in use by the institute and is not for sale, Whitfield said, but it also does not generate enough revenue to cover its debt.

“We’re working on a business plan for that building to become self-sufficient,” Whitfield said of the institute.

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