County will allow land deal for new shopping center
SALISBURY — County commissioners agreed Monday to give a development company an 18-month option to buy county-owned land for a shopping center.
Hutton Growth One, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., says it plans to use that time to secure tenants, including a “well-known” anchor store, for a new retail development at Summit Corporate Center.
Steve Tingle, a real estate developer partnering with Hutton in a joint venture, pitched the proposal at Monday’s meeting of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
“We have a great national tenant that we think would be a super addition to this community that has asked us to look at it for them,” Tingle said. “That’s our lead tenant, if you will, but there’s a number of tenants that have expressed interest in wanting to look at this.”
He said it would be premature to name those tenants, but many are national retailers.
Hutton’s construction company, Hutton Growth Salisbury LLC, is building the expansion of the Wallace Commons shopping center at Klumac Road and Interstate 85. Planned tenants there include Michaels Craft, Shoe Carnival, Ulta Beauty and a redesigned Belk, which is moving from the Salisbury Mall. “I had people call me and say, ‘Can you get us into the project in Salisbury? They’re saying they don’t have room for us,’” Tingle said.
He said that’s when the group started looking at land just across the interstate.
Robert Van Geons, director of RowanWorks Economic Development, said the project is expected to create at least 250 new jobs and increase the tax base by $20 million.
Those are conservative estimates, he said.
If Hutton buys all of the optioned land, the sale would generate more than $2.17 million for Rowan County. Van Geons said he expects the project to bring in sales tax revenue totaling $1.8 million per year.
Commissioners voted unanimously to grant Hutton the 18-month option.
The developer is offering $40,000 per acre for up to 54.4 acres of land. On behalf of the county, RowanWorks Economic Development has been marketing the Summit property for industrial development at $39,700 per acre. The current per-acre tax value of the property is $27,800.
“We’re not here asking for public incentives to help us put this deal together,” Tingle said. “We think that with the price that we’ve offered, we can make this thing work given the opportunity and time to do so.”
The company would make a $55,000 deposit, and the county would keep $25,000 of that after 12 months, regardless of the final outcome of the project. The county would keep an additional $5,000 of the deposit for each of the next six months.
Rowan County can choose to end the option agreement if, after one year, the company does not have a letter of interest from a retail anchor considering a project larger than 55,000 square feet.
Before Hutton can buy the property, though, the county would have change part of Summit’s zoning restrictions.
Even though the property is zoned appropriately as “commercial, business and industrial,” the county currently prohibits commercial uses.
Commissioner Chad Mitchell said the project would change the corporate park’s intended scope, but that could be a good thing.
“The market is finally taking the lead on this, instead of us trying to push a square peg in a round hole out there,” he said.
Van Geons said he thinks a shopping center could be a good complement to the light industry, technology and office space that Summit already attracts.
“I would say that having a retail and services hub along the entrances could very well help to encourage other non-retail operations there,” he said.
He said Rowan County loses between $80 million and $110 million a year in retail sales to other counties, and this project could help stop that “leakage.”
Chairman Jim Sides said he understands that manufacturing and other high-paying jobs are valuable, the retail sector can also put people back to work in Rowan County.
“A check at $8 an hour is better than an unemployment check,” Sides said. “I think anything we do in that area is positive for the county, and I think this will have a domino effect if this project does proceed as expected.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.