New grocery stores are on the way near neighborhoods throughout the Cape Fear region in 2016, including a Publix currently under construction off South College Road and a Lidl planned on Eastwood Road.
Publix and Lidl are two of the newest kids on the region’s blocks as grocery store companies compete for dollars from residents increasingly unwilling to drive far on their quests for food.
While 30,000-square-foot Publix stores are planned to anchor a new shopping center in Ogden and a proposed center on Oak Island, the Publix at Bragg Drive and South College Road was officially announced by the company in August. Company officials have said Publix doesn't announce locations until leases are signed.
“We are expecting to deliver the store to Publix mid-summer,” said Vin Wells, a broker with Cape Fear Commercial who is managing the project for his firm’s development arm, GHK Cape Fear Development.
Wells said in an email that it make sense for Publix to establish a presence in the Wilmington area.
“Publix is a Florida-based company that operates over 1,100 stores in six states in the South, and expanding into North Carolina was a logical move. With Wilmington's future growth, Publix sees the need to be in this market and is excited about their store at Bragg and South College Road,” Wells said in the email.
Recently, Jim Bradshaw, who retired last year from his job as executive director of the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, served in a volunteer capacity for Halpern Enterprises in a presentation involving a Publix-anchored center between 50th and 52nd streets on Oak Island. He said he wanted to do it because Brunswick County is “drastically underserved” when it comes to retail options.
The potential 30,000-square-foot Publix on Oak Island, though, is in the earlier stages of the planning process, Bradshaw said, than the stores in the city of Wilmington, with Oak Island officials recently approving a text amendment that applies to a general definition for one of its commercial zones.
Minor changes for the Publix location in Ogden Marketplace, which is also under development by Atlanta-based Halpern Enterprises on Market Street around Middle Sound Loop Road, are still under review by city officials, with tweaks that include parking lot access expected to be considered by the City Council in February, according to planning officials.
Plans for a location operated by German-based grocery store chain Lidl at 1511 Eastwood Road are also still under review, with officials expecting changes to the plan to be resubmitted after the city’s Technical Review Committee conducted a first review in December.
At the same time, developers with new mixed-use projects in the works are courting potential grocery store tenants that could add to the options. Those projects include The Pointe at Barclay at Independence Boulevard and South 17th Street and the redevelopment of the former Coca-Cola bottling facility
along Princess and N. 10th streets in downtown Wilmington.