National, regional and local businesses are coming to a retail shopping center under development next to Wal-Mart in Leland.
Before the first of four buildings have started coming out of the ground, the center is more than 50 percent leased, said Jack Kilbourne, a broker with Maus, Warwick, Matthews & Company who is in charge of leasing for the new complex, dubbed Westgate Marketplace
Pet food and supply store Petsense, Cricket Wireless, Miyabi Junior Express Japanese hibachi restaurant, Complete Coastal Dentistry, Charlie Graingers hot dog, brisket and barbecue restaurant, and Ganey, Byrd & Dunn (GBD) Insurance Group are the first tenants to be announced for Westgate Marketplace. The majority of the tenants are new to the Leland area.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the 31,600-square-foot center, planned on 4.5 acres, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday on the site at the corner of West Gate Drive and New Pointe Boulevard in Leland, according to an announcement from Maus, Warwick, Matthews & Co. and McKinley Building Corp.
Three retail buildings will be under construction, with an outparcel site available for a potential 3,200-square-foot restaurant. The developer is DK Leland 2 LLC.
"We saw a void of retail services and stores for the booming residential population in the area. There's lots of new home starts and multi-family, and it's just a real natural fit," Kilbourne said.
He said shell space at Westgate Marketplace is expected to be complete by this summer, and tenants open for business in the fall.
While Petsense has a store in Shallotte and opened a store at Long Leaf Mall in Wilmington in 2014, pet owners in northern Brunswick County have not had a national specialty pet retailer option for food and supplies.
Josh Patterson, vice president of operations for Petsense, said the company chose the Leland area because of family- and pet-friendly demographics, and the fact that the chain's competitors have locations in Wilmington.
In underserved markets like Leland, Patterson said, "one thing that most of the customers tell us immediately is, 'Oh my goodness, you're saving me a 20-minute drive into ... and then insert whatever town that is."
Arizona-based Petsense carries premium brands that aren't available at Wal-Mart and grocery stores, Patterson said.
Bobby Smith, one of the owners of Miyabi Junior Express, said the eatery has a location in Jacksonville, in addition to locations elsewhere in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
"We've been looking in Wilmington quite a while and couldn't quite get a location we were happy with. It looks like that's [Leland] a really growing market, and it's going to have some potential down the road, so we thought we'd go ahead and grab it before it got away from us," Smith said of his restaurant's space in Westgate Marketplace.
Lora Hill, owner of nine Cricket Wireless locations in North Carolina, said she chose the center for her Leland store because the site seemed to be "in the heart of all the shopping there."
Cricket Wireless is a nationwide, no-contract wireless provider that offers cell phones and lower-priced plans.
"Out of the nine locations I have currently, my Wilmington location is the busiest location that I have. The Leland area is just exploding right now and I just want to be a part of that," Hill said.
Kilbourne said spaces ranging from 1,200 to 6,000 feet are still available at Westgate Marketplace.
The buildings have been designed with a Southern flare, to be clad with shake and clapboard siding and metal roof accents, he said. Intracoastal Engineering and Guidry-Coastal Architecture Inc. are the design team.
Park Sterling Bank is financing the construction for an undisclosed amount, Kilbourne said.