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Real Estate - Commercial

Revamped Retail Centers Reap Rewards

By Cece Nunn, posted Aug 25, 2016
Refurbishing Crossroads Center on South Kerr Avenue has helped lead seven tenants to the center in the past year. (Photo by Cece Nunn)

Stephanie Luther said she considered “a ton of locations” around Wilmington for her new store before choosing Crossroads Center on South Kerr Avenue.

The owner of The Bump & Beyond eventually picked the midtown location last year for a variety of reasons, including anticipated growth, the potential she saw in the 2,000-square-foot space her business now occupies and a parking lot more conducive for parents toting tots on a shopping trip.

Luther said she was also happy about the changes the owner of the center, Landmark Commercial, was making at the time.

“They literally painted the sidewalk and put all of the stone columns in like two days before we signed our lease. I was like, ‘Yeah, this is going places,’” Luther said. 

The refurbishment and renovation of older shopping centers is expected to be one of the waves of Wilmington’s future. Infill and redevelopment are fundamental components of the city’s recently updated Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan, pointed out Christine Hughes, senior planner on the city’s staff. 

Development of vast open land, the plans says, is no longer an option in Wilmington.

“Envisioning suitable infill and redevelopment and optimizing existing development will be critical to the community’s well-being, not only downtown, but within neighborhoods across the city,” the plan says.

For the owner of Crossroads, located in midtown Wilmington, the time was right to make some improvements, said Gerry Boyle, vice president of Landmark Commercial. 

“The economy was coming back, and things were looking a lot better. We decided to upgrade it,” Boyle said.

In part because of the upgrades, which have also included painting the roofs of the center’s buildings, installing new entrance signs and changing out all the landscaping the center at 890 S. Kerr Ave. has welcomed seven new tenants in the past 12 months, said Tyler Pegg, a commercial broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial SunCoast. Pegg, Cody Cress and Chuck Lydon, all of Coldwell Banker Commercial SunCoast, are the listing agents for spaces in the center.

New tenants on the way to space inside the center include Round Bagels & Donuts, Hibachi To Go and Triple H Stacy Adams Shoes and Accessories, a men’s clothing and shoe store. The men’s store will occupy half of a 2,600-square-foot space that Landmark decided to split into two as part of the upgrades, Boyle said.

A growing business with a retail location across the street from Crossroads Center, Julia’s Florist, opened a design center there in July.  

New leases have also been signed for offices on the second floor of the center’s buildings, Boyle said. Those new tenants include Sea Land Contractors, Etc. Media Group and Parkway. 

He pointed to the increase in development around the center, including new student housing that’s been built along another section of South Kerr Avenue and a N.C. Department of Transportation project that is expected to make the thoroughfare more accessible as benefits for Crossroads tenants.

It’s the kind of activity that tenants like Luther are hoping will boost their businesses. The Bump & Beyond sells products for pregnant women and new parents, in addition to holding classes for them.    

“I knew this area was kind of up and coming in a sense, and I had done a lot of research as far as the zip codes that were growing in the next couple years,” Luther said.

The Promenade on North Market

Crossroads is just one of the retail properties in the area to get a new lease on life this year. 

The Promenade on North Market, 5500 Market St., needed a lot of improvements when Metrolina Capital Advisors bought the bank-owned property, which includes a 27,000-square-foot building, in 2014. 

At that time, Promenade only had two tenants, some of the utilities weren’t working and there was a sinkhole in the parking lot, said Harry Tsumas, a partner in Metrolina Capital along with Joe Jackson. 

“When they’re [shopping centers] in distress like that, what happens is the tenants get unhappy. They’re not being taken care of. We kind of pride ourselves in making sure that tenants are satisfied with where they are,” Tsumas said. “We want them to be successful.”

Metrolina fixed the problems, including the sinkhole. Crews repainted and put a new roof on the building, among other improvements. 

Now the retail space, built in 2004, has numerous tenants – including Adam & Eve, OneMain Financial, Tongy’s Shmackhouse, JohnnyLukes KitchenBar and The Seasoned Gourmet – with only two small spaces left to lease, Tsumas said.

His group is currently marketing the improved Promenade and the lot next door for sale. 

The center is hosting a ribbon-cutting event from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 17 to celebrate its grand re-opening.

Wrightsville Center

Crews began a project to redo the façade of Wrightsville Center, 3502 Wrightsville Ave., earlier this year.  

River Associates LLC, managed by John Jordan, has owned the property for 12 years. Jordan also owns the center’s anchor tenant, gift and home furnishings store Protocol: Elements for Good Living.

Based on a design by Wilmington architect Cothran Harris, the project is under construction by Uhl Inc. general contractors and is expected to be complete by Sept. 1, Jordan said. Other tenants at the 13,000-square-foot Wrightsville Center include Fiore Fine Flowers, Body Aligned Pilates Studio, The Monogram Shop and Beyond Basics Beauty Supply. The center was originally built in 1989, the same year as Crossroads Center.

As the owner of both Wrightsville Center and Protocol, Jordan said he wanted the look of the property to reflect the high-end nature of his business. The project could also have an impact on the surrounding area.

“It’s a hope that you have that you’re willing to invest in the neighborhood and maybe those around you realize we’re kind of in this together, and they’re willing to step forward as well,” Jordan said. “I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from other businesses and property owners in the neighborhood from, ‘Thank you for doing this’ to ‘This is a great thing for all of us,’ and that’s what you want in the end.”

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