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Shopping center in Summit?

SALISBURY — On the heels of opening the new Belk and Wallace Commons expansion, a Chattanooga-based developer is gearing up for a possible second shopping center, this one in Rowan County’s corporate park on Interstate 85.
No store names have been announced, but developer Hutton Company and leasing agent Providence Group have posted a sign at the entrance to Summit Corporate Center at Julian Road and I-85 announcing retail spaces and outparcels available for lease. Hutton has an option to buy up to 54 acres of county-owned land in the corporate park.
Providence, a Charlotte real estate firm, has a proposed site plan on its website showing seven stores in phase one. The largest store shown on the layout is 55,000 square feet, likely too small for a Target, which usually occupies at least 95,000 square feet. A vacant 15-acre tract makes up phase two.
No word yet on which retailers the developers are courting or whether they have signed any leases. Neither group would comment, and Rowan County still owns the land.
Robert Van Geons, executive director for RowanWorks Economic Development Commission, said the sign and flyer are the next steps in marketing the property and landing tenants.
The site layout is conceptual, Van Geons said. Before Hutton can buy the property, the county would have to change part of Summit’s zoning restrictions.
“This is one segment of opportunity that could be out there,” Van Geons said. “The company is talking to a lot of other people.”
Van Geons said he could not comment on what sort of retail developers are pursuing or whether the layout means Target is not a potential anchor.
While Hutton has some additional property in Summit under option, the majority of land the company would buy is shown on the flyer.
If the development proceeds as planned, the sale of land would generate significant revenue for the county, Van Geons said. But the shopping center would have a longer-lasting impact on the county by boosting sales tax revenue currently going to other counties, he said.
“We’re excited that Hutton continues to have interest in the property,” Van Geons said.
Every year, Rowan residents spend more than $200 million on retail goods and services outside the county and online, according to 2011 figures from the EDC. The only retail sector in Rowan that brings in more money than it loses to other counties is automotive sales.
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.
The project is expected to create at least 250 new jobs and increase the tax base by $20 million.
The company has about six months remaining on an 18-month option approved unanimously by county commissioners in January.
The developer is offering $40,000 per acre for up to 54.4 acres of land. The EDC has been marketing the Summit property for industrial development at $39,700 per acre.
According to the agreement, the company made a $55,000 deposit on the optioned land. The county keeps $25,000 of that after 12 months, regardless of the final outcome of the project.
The county keeps an additional $5,000 of the deposit for each of the next six months, starting in January.
Rowan County can end the option agreement after one year if the company does not have a letter of interest from a retail anchor considering a project larger than 55,000 square feet.
Hutton’s construction company, Hutton Growth Salisbury LLC, built the new Belk and expansion of the Wallace Commons shopping center at Klumac Road and Interstate 85. Tenants there include Michaels Craft, Shoe Carnival and Ulta Beauty.
A Hutton official told county commissioners in January that the high level of interest in Wallace Commons led the developer to look at adjoining property in Summit for a second shopping center.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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