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Real Estate - Commercial

SECU Branch Planned On Site Where Grocery Store Was Proposed

By Cece Nunn, posted Jul 8, 2019
A rendering shows the State Employees Credit Union branch planned at 4355 S. 17th St. in Wilmington. (Courtesy of SECU)
A State Employees Credit Union branch is the latest plan for a site on South 17th Street that at one time was expected to be part of a Lidl grocery store-anchored center, according to documents submitted to the city of Wilmington.

The site plans show an 8,590-square-foot branch building for SECU on about 4 acres at 4355 S. 17th St., one of the parcels where developers had been working on a location for Lidl, the discount grocer and Aldi competitor. Some infrastructure, including roadwork, was previously completed on the site.

In an email Monday afternoon, SECU officials said they hope to open the new branch in early 2021 with 12 to 14 employees.

"The closest branch is currently located on Converse Drive, so this will help SECU to better serve the local membership," the email stated, in response to why SECU chose 17th Street for a new branch.

This location will be the seventh branch in New Hanover County, officials said, and SECU currently has 106 employees in the county.

The plans by engineering firm SEPI were submitted by SECU and are expected to be discussed by Wilmington's Technical Review Committee on July 18, according to the committee's latest agenda.

The Lidl-anchored development would have been called Arbor Commons, but Lidl ended those store plans, and Leon Capital Group, a Texas-based development firm, sued Lidl for “wrongful termination of certain agreements,” according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern North Carolina.

The case was dismissed Jan. 7. A Lidl store is currently under construction at 1445 Eastwood Road in Wilmington, and as of May was expected to be complete in August.

Another potential development on the South 17th Street sites would have included townhomes and apartments, but that proposal was voted down by the city's planning commission and like the Lidl plan, never came to fruition.

The latest plans for 4355 S. 17th St. describe a total building footprint of nearly 10,100 square feet, including an ATM. The property at 4355 S. 17th St. is owned by LG John Barry Drive LLC, a Leon Capital Group entity. The firm bought 10 acres on South 17th Street, including 4355 and 4301, for $2.6 million from GWT Properties LLC in 2016, according to New Hanover County property tax records.

SECU has the property under contract, officials said.

Earlier this month, Corning Credit Union opened a three-story regional office building in the corridor. SECU officials said that's not why their new branch was planned.

"We just needed to expand to have a presence for SECU members in the general area. We wish Corning Credit Union continued success," the email stated.
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