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Prime land set for developing; seller of smaller tract says he's heard Target is a 'sure thing,' Home Depot '50-50'

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

Childress Klein Properties, a shopping center developer based in Charlotte, has an option on 97 acres at Jake Alexander Boulevard and Brenner Avenue and recently bought a parcel off Lincolnton Road that would provide an additional access.

The larger tract belongs to Salisbury’s Livingstone College or, more precisely, Livingstone Entrepreneurial Development Co.

Chris Thomas, a partner with Childress Klein Properties, said “it’s still early” in the process, but the company sees the property as ideally located to serve the existing residential market and the growth that will come. “We like that location,” he said.

Childress Klein, doing business as CK Salisbury Retail LLC, signed a purchase contract agreement with the Livingstone development company last year.

As further confirmation of the company’s interest in the Livingstone College site, Childress Klein purchased 1.44 acres at 1318 Lincolnton Road in January from Kent Enterprises for $600,000.

Thomas said it would provide access from the larger tract to Lincolnton Road and, more importantly, N.C. 150, where significant residential development has occurred.

Key tenants in Childress Klein Properties’ other retail centers have included Target, Home Depot, Stein Mart and several different grocery stores.

Familiar Childress Klein retail projects in the Charlotte region include the Arboretum, Plantation Market, Promenade on Providence, RiverGate and Afton Ridge.

The existing and future tenant list at Afton Ridge, located at Interstate 85 and Kannapolis Parkway (Exit 54), includes a SuperTarget, Best Buy, Marshalls, Ashley Furniture, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Lane Bryant among some 15 stores.

Thomas said the Livingstone College property offers enough acreage “for a regional type of project.”

Childress Klein’s option agreement with Livingstone extends into 2008.

“These types of development typically take a long time to put together,” Thomas said. He added that it has been “an excellent experience” working with Livingstone.

The college owns several other key tracts in this particular area — some 185 acres in all.

The developer would probably place the main entrance to the new retail center where Brenner Avenue now dead-ends into Jake Alexander Boulevard.

Thomas could not confirm any specific tenants for the Salisbury tract but said the market seems poised for new retailers in the next couple of years.

“We really don’t say a lot until we have something definitive to talk about,” he added.

He described plans for the Livingstone site as “still fairly preliminary.”

But rumors about the site have shown considerable legs in recent months.

Max Kent, who sold the Lincolnton Road property to Childress Klein Jan. 10, said he was told during his purchase negotiations that a Target store was “a sure thing” and Home Depot was “50-50.”

Kent also heard “a lot of restaurants” were interested.

Kent bought the Lincolnton Road property, which includes a two-story rental house, for $65,000 in 1995 and said he was pleased that it turned out to be a good investment.

The assessed value of the house and land was $87,468.

Salisbury Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson said rumors that a Target might be coming to Salisbury have been circulating for many months. Home Depot also has been mentioned.

“I can truthfully say I have not heard any confirmed things,” Woodson said.

City Councilman Mark Lewis, a banker, said he has heard “the same scuttlebutt.”

The restaurant and residential development now under way in Salisbury will lead to bigger things within three years, Woodson predicts.

“They know something’s coming,” Woodson said. “I just think we’re poised for retail expansion here.”

Elaine China, a longtime resident and defender of Ludwick Heights, a residential neighborhood next to the Livingstone property, also has heard the rumors about Target. That talk and Kent’s sale of his land concern her.

China noted that former Mayor Margaret Kluttz once likened her neighborhood to a tattered Oriental carpet because of the assault it has been under for years from encroaching development.

China said she had hopes the final line separating business development from residential Ludwick Heights had been drawn years ago at the 4 acres owned by Wallace Properties at 1314 Lincolnton Road.

“His (Wallace’s) property made a logical stop,” China said.

But Kent’s property, now in the hands of Childress Klein, is on the residential side of that line.

Childress Klein Properties owns real estate assets of more than $1 billion in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia. It manages and owns properties that add up to more than 20 million square feet and include shopping centers, office buildings, mixed use developments, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, business parks and warehouses.

The Charlotte retail division of Childress Klein has developed some 2.8 million square feet.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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