Local firm buys downtown Kress building

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — A local venture capital group has purchased the landmark Kress Plaza in downtown Salisbury.
Sharp Capital Group LLC plans to complete the renovation started by Mooresville builder Joel Goodman and occupy half the building, said Skip Wood, managing principal for Sharp Capital.
The private equity firm has “grown significantly” this year and now owns or operates six subsidiaries, Wood said.
“We needed space, and this is such a cool building,” he said. “It will take a fairly significant investment to finish the building to the same standards that Joel started with.”
Wood estimated the firm will spend $500,000 completing the renovation. He did not disclose the purchase price for Kress Plaza LLC, which included the building and other assets.
Next spring, Wood and founder Ben Sharp plan to move Sharp Capital and corporate offices for five subsidiaries into the Kress, which stands at the corner of South Main and West Bank streets. The company is currently located at 1355 Long Ferry Road, where Sharp Transit will remain.
In September 2005, Goodman, owner of Goodman Investment Properties, bought the Kress and began a comprehensive renovation of the building’s exterior, as well as the construction of five luxury condominiums on the second floor that was completed in 2007.
Three of five condominiums have been sold. Wood said Sharp Capital will use one condominium for corporate guests and may lease the fifth.
The company will occupy the inside half of the first floor, as well as half the basement, and lease the remaining space, he said.
“If (Rowan-Salisbury School System’s) central office goes in across the street, just pick the restaurant that will want to lease it,” Wood said.
An outside entrance with a stairwell leading to the basement offers flexibility for a restaurant upstairs and bar downstairs, he said.
Wood has no potential tenants yet “but the phone may start to ring in the next couple days,” he said.
The Kress wasn’t on the market when Wood met Goodman a month ago. Randy Hemann, executive director for Downtown Salisbury Inc., introduced them after Goodman mentioned he might sell the building to the right person.
“If I could find the right group, I would consider it,” Goodman said.
After meeting Wood, “I quickly realized his vision for the property is the same as mine.”
Goodman exceeded the highest levels of quality in the work done to date, Wood said. The craftsmanship is unparalleled, he said.
“Our need for more space and our commitment to the same high standards made this a natural fit,” Wood said.
Goodman said the residents were his first concern when he considered a sale. He became convinced Sharp Capital would look after them as he has, Goodman said.
“Skip and Sharp Capital are the right caretaker for Kress Plaza,” Goodman said.
Hemann said Sharp Capital’s acquisition of the Kress building is good for downtown.
“This purchase will also ensure that the legacy of quality that Joel Goodman exhibited in the redevelopment continues as the building moves into a new phase of ownership,” Hemann said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

S.H. Kress & Co., founded by Samuel H. Kress in 1896, opened a chain of five-and-dime stores and was responsible for the architectural design of their buildings in downtowns across the country. The Salisbury Kress store opened in 1910 at 300 S. Main St. and  has been called by some Salisbury’s “Icon of Beauty” because of its striking construction.

Sharp Capital Group LLC

• Sharp Metal, an insulated wire recycling company in Catawba County
• CruiserWorks Motorcycle Gear. Boots manufactured in Wisconsin. Inventory, distribution and shipping of 1,700 pairs in the Kress basement.
• Sharp Real Estate, a real estate holding company
• 3 Dudes Productions. Mike Miller of Miller Davis will continue day-to-day operations, with corporate office moving to the Kress
• Route De Vins Imports, a startup based in Charleston with corporate functions at the Kress
• Sharp Transit, founder Ben Sharp’s first company, started in 2001. With distribution centers in seven states and one customer (Aldi), the Salisbury operation will remain on Long Ferry Road.