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Real Estate - Commercial

Swain & Associates To Redevelop Former Movie Theater Property On Oleander

By Cece Nunn, posted Oct 21, 2016
Wilmington-based commercial real estate firm will redevelop the former movie theater property at 5335 Oleander Drive. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
Redevelopment could be coming soon to an old movie theater near you.

The Wilmington-based commercial real estate development firm that created The Forum shopping center on Military Cutoff Road recently bought nearly 6 acres at 5335 Oleander Drive, the address that a decade ago was occupied by a Carmike Cinema.

Via a limited liability company called Oleander Investments, Swain & Associates paid $2.05 million to UNCW Corporation Oleander One LLC,  a University of North Carolina Wilmington associated entity, for the property.

"While we do not have any immediate development plans, we believe the tract is well situated in the heart of Wilmington and is long overdue for redevelopment," said Jason Swain, principal broker of Swain & Associates, in an email this week.

Swain said company officials also don't have a timeline for a potential redevelopment, but their goal is to identify the site's highest and best use and redevelop it accordingly. 

"As development continues to occur in Wilmington, it is becoming more challenging to locate larger tracts of land that are candidates for new development. The Oleander Drive corridor is a good example of this.  We believe the size and location of this site provide a good opportunity to turn an eyesore into a quality, sustainable development that the community can be proud of," Swain said.

The UNCW associated entity paid Carmike $2.5 million for the property in December 2005, according to New Hanover County property tax records. The movie theater closed in 2006.

Through an operating agreement, UNCW had at one time used the property for parking. 

Selling the property was "a strategic decision we made because the property’s location away from campus left it a non-strategic asset, particularly once the parking deck was built on campus [in 2009] to take care of the demand we had at that time," said Rick Whitfield, vice chancellor of business affairs for UNCW.

Whitfield said that keeping the property on the books was costing $237,000 a year, which includes a more than $200,000 debt payment. As a result of the sale, Whitfield said, those funds can now be redirected "to expand parking on our main campus to meet the growing demand as our enrollment grows."

Steve Warwick, a partner in commercial real estate firm Maus, Warwick, Matthews & Co., represented the UNCW associated entity in the sale.

Founded by Jason Swain's father, H. David Swain,  Swain & Associates has developed more than 120 projects in 52 communities for 80 national and regional clients since 1978, including redeveloping a portion of downtown Asheville for an Urban Outfitters in 2010.  The company's portfolio includes more than 2.5 million square feet of retail and office space, and the firm has also developed and owns more than 50 apartment complexes, the company's website says.

Swain & Associates continues to manage The Forum after selling the shopping center for $24.7 million to Dallas-based L&B Realty Advisors LLP in 2013. 

Regarding the new Oleander Drive acquisition, Jason Swain said, "Ultimately, we believe Wilmington has a very bright future and want to do all the we can to help bring jobs and economic opportunity to the area."
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