When Walgreens looked to enter a historic area of Birmingham it called on CONNOLLY to redevelop a five-parcel, 1.18-acre site occupied by a vacant fire station, an auto repair shop originally built as a service station, an office/warehouse building, a hair salon and a neighborhood restaurant. The site was encircled by several different neighborhoods — one upscale and historic, another a former warehouse district; necessitating the project blend in with the varying styles. CONNOLLY was faced with the challenge of accommodating to the regulations of the neighborhood and creating a chain drugstore that could fit a suburban footprint in an urban environment.
Solutions and Results:
By meeting with neighborhood leaders and city officials, CONNOLLY facilitated a dialog about what was important to the neighborhoods, and then worked closely with Walgreens to address existing objections. CONNOLLY held a design charette with the neighborhood and presented several design options; and a consensus quickly developed for the Walgreens build out to feature a Mid Century Modern feel with the building directly on the sidewalk.
CONNOLLY’S revised plans also included restoring the exterior of the fire station, while renovating the interior for retail/restaurant uses. The undertaking consisted of raising the fire station bays in the rear of the building; creating a raised patio and cleaning up environmental contamination from prior uses.
Walgreens now sits as part of a striking architectural project; the neighborhood had a prominent corner developed into a first class drug store and a once dilapidated historic building was restored to its proper glory.
Project Timeframe: 3 ½ to 4 years
Project Value: $8.2 million
Specs: 1.18 acres; 17,055 total square feet
Beaver Ruin Village, one of the first shopping centers developed by CONNOLLY in 1975, originally contained the first Kmart in Gwinnett County, a small Kroger and a strong collection of local shops. Kroger expanded, which helped make Beaver Ruin Village the dominant shopping center in its trade area as growth accelerated around it.
In 1994, Kmart decided to relocate its store to a new shopping center about four miles away on Pleasant Hill Road, with the goal of being closer to the then relatively new Gwinnett Place Mall. This left an 85,000 square foot vacant shell in the shopping center in the early- to mid-1990s real estate recession.
While potential success of the Kroger promised further expansion, several events following a buyout threat led to the expansion program being halted. Further complicating the situation, the entire shopping center was on a long term ground lease with the fee simple interest held by a local family, and there was a third party owner of the Kmart leasehold that controlled the lease for the Kmart.
Solutions and Results:
After two years of negotiations led by CONNOLLY, Kroger committed to purchase the landlord leasehold interest of the Kmart, demolish the Kmart and build a new state-of-the-art supercenter. CONNOLLY agreed to redevelop the former Kroger space once Kroger moved, determining that the former Kroger would be developed with small shops in the front 80 ft. of depth and the balance would be converted to warehouse space. The renovated shopping center looked brand new both in buildings and sitework. To this day, it retains its dominant position in the market and has remained at or close to full occupancy.
The project reflects a 41-year effort including initial construction with development challenges in an emerging growth area. We dealt with a major tenant loss and decided to redevelop and reinvest to retain a class A position in the market by re-tenanting with a best-in-class retailer. This project showcases CONNOLLY’s development, redevelopment, anchor tenant marketing, property management, asset management, shop leasing skills, patience and dedication.
In 2015 CONNOLLY decided to exit and sold the property to a public REIT at a price satisfactory to the ownership.
Project Timeframe: An evolution of development and renovations over 40+ years
Project Value: $12,350,000
Specs: 137,334 total square feet, including 63,000 square feet for Kroger, 50,718 square feet for retail shops and 23,320 square feet of warehouse space in addition to freestanding McDonalds, Popeyes and Captain D’s
The development of 40 acres of green fields with a pastoral pond. Land was originally owned by a prominent church located across the street, which had the goal of raising funds to support its mission and create the right retail environment to serve as its neighbor. Wetland and stream impact required a longer, more difficult permitting process that could take up to two years with no guarantee of success. Some vocal neighbors wanted to keep the land and pond undeveloped. The city had a distinct idea of the type of retail project it wanted to see built, one different than proposed.
Solutions and Results:
CONNOLLY worked diligently to build a rapport with all groups. It worked with permitting bodies to navigate the complex permitting process; and it worked with the city in an effort to show them that the neo-traditional development they wanted (with retail on sidewalks such as in a town center) would not succeed without the benefit of high density housing or significant government funding. Today, the Dacula Market Shopping Center is very successful and popular among retailers and happy tenants. It features a Kroger Superstore with Fuel Station, Walgreens, McDonalds, AutoZone, Pep Boys, Chick fil A, Chase Bank, Taco Bell/KFC, Bojangles’ and more.
Project Timeframe: 5 years
Project Value: Estimated $75 to $100 million in annual sales
Specs: 40 acres; 200,000 total square feet