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Work starts on new Belk, Big Lots while Dollar Tree readies new store

SALISBURY — Dirt is moving to make way for new retail in Salisbury.
Carolina Siteworks Inc. of China Grove has started site preparations for the Wallace Commons expansion on Interstate 85 at Julian Road next door to Kohl’s, where Belk will relocate from the Salisbury Mall.
Office Depot on East Innes Street is also buzzing with activity as Foster Grading Co. of Concord upfits the building for Big Lots, which will move in with a down-sized Office Depot.
Foster Grading crews are also doing parking lot improvements — there will be six more feet of grass between the sidewalk and Office Depot parking lot — and will start work later this month on the new Panera Bread next to Cookout.
People close to the Office Depot project say Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts is tentatively planning to move into the Office Depot building as well, but Ken McCoy, senior managing director of property services for Faison in Charlotte, said he can’t confirm that and no lease has been signed.
A spokesman for Jo-Ann also said he could not confirm the store coming to Salisbury.
The Wallace Commons expansion at I-85 and Julian Road will include Ulta Beauty, Shoe Carnival and Michael’s Crafts.
Hutton, the project’s Tennessee-based developer, also wants to develop 54 acres for retail in the Summit Corporate Center at the same interchange.
Next door to the future Belk site, an 8,000-square-foot Dollar Tree has taken the last vacant space in the existing shopping center. The store, where everything costs $1, will open at 9 a.m. Saturday and will employ between 12 and 15 people.
“It has been a long, hard road,” said Michael Smith, managing partner at Collett & Associates. “We have finally leased it up due to the Salisbury market and improvement in the market in general.”
Collett owns Wallace Commons with the Wallace family of Salisbury. Smith handles leasing.
The Hutton-Belk development next door helped spur activity at the existing center, Smith said. Hutton bought the land for Belk from Home Depot, which purchased the parcel just before the Great Recession and never developed it.
“We always say activity begets activity,” Smith said. “New development in the market tends to breed vibrancy back into the project.”
Dollar Tree’s new location will be the third in Salisbury, including stores at the Salisbury Mall and next to Old Navy on Faith Road. Despite Belk’s impending departure from the mall, Dollar Tree will keep that location open, a spokeswoman said.
Big Lots has not said whether it will leave the mall when it opens the East Innes Street store, but several retail experts said they do not expect Big Lots to operate two locations in Salisbury.
Primax Construction Inc. of Pinehurst is the general contractor for the East Innes Street activity, including the Office Depot upfit, Panera Bread construction and parking lot improvements. Primax completed the recent Bojangles’ rebuild in the same area in just 67 days, earning praise from city officials and others.
“Those guys are great,” McCoy said.
Big Lots should open in mid- to late-summer, he said, and the third tenant will open sometime in 2014.
The Panera construction still needs final lender approval but all permits have been issued, McCoy said. The Panera building will include a retailer, but McCoy said no lease has been signed yet.
Michael Humphries, manager of the new Dollar Tree in Wallace Commons, said he’s happy with the retail resurgence in Salisbury. After working for six years at a Dollar Tree in Concord, Humphries said his new store is 10 minutes from his home in Salisbury.
The new Belk will bring even more traffic to Wallace Commons, Humphries said.
“I’m excited. I think it’s great,” he said. “Now all we need over here is a Chick-fil-A.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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