Active retail space for active lives is coming to the Roanoke Valley with the rebranding and purchase of the former Farm Fresh building at Premier Station, which has led to the lease of a large portion of the complex to Dunham’s Sports.
Nick Brown, president and broker in charge of NDB Commercial Real Estate in Raleigh, said he brokered the deal on the premise of creating a “Sports Plaza at Premier Station.”
Brown said 56,388 feet of main space will be used by Dunham’s Sports — the largest sporting goods chain in the midwest.
The company was founded in 1937 in Waterford, Mich., and features a full line of sporting goods and a variety of active and casual sports apparel and footwear in 16 states and 170 stores.
“Along with Dunham’s Sports, we are trying to build a theme that will host active shoppers and hopefully attract active tenants,” Brown said. “These types of tenants could include everything from gyms, chiropractors, nail salons, hair salons, martial arts and an entire range of companies trying to attract active customers.”
Brown said long believed this kind of project would be successful in the Roanoke Valley.
Demographics for the region, according to Brown, show within five miles of Premier Station there are more than 27,000 people with an average income of more than $48,000.
Further, he said, Premiere Landing boasts retail sales of more than $6 million yearly. The area pulls from many regions in all directions from northern Virginia down the Eastern Seaboard.
Add the traffic on Interstate 95 and Highway 158, and Brown said there is good reason to believe this venture will succeed.
“I’ve always personally liked Roanoke Rapids,” he said, adding he has been working on this project for many years. “I think it will do very well there.”
Raleigh firm Sanderson Construction Inc. will act as contractor.
Steve Fitzpatrick, of Sanderson, said the company is already working.
“We’re already on the preliminary stuff,” he said, adding he is talking with the building department this week.
Fitzpatrick said he will employ mostly local people — between 40 and 50. “We have a crew of contractors representing the best in the Roanoke Valley,” he said. “It’s just a matter of pulling the trigger.”
Brown said Halifax County Economic Development director Cathy Scott and Roanoke Valley Chamber President/CEO Allen Purser were beneficial in putting this venture together.
Brown said anyone interested in the project should call Nick or Chris Brown at 919-845-5155. He said general inquiries can hit “0” for any questions.
“We can offer anywhere from 1,400 square feet on the small end to 9,800 square feet on the large end and any range in between,” Brown said. “We also have two outparcels for sale or lease.” Brown expects Dunham’s to take possession of the building in June and have the store open by mid-August.
He said the company asked to wait until they take possession before they reveal the number of jobs created and other information. According to Brown, the retail space’s ownership partners are based in China, with a managing member based in Chapel Hill.
“Our firm, NDB Commercial Real Estate, handles all their real estate from acquisitions to leasing to development to management to disposition,” Brown said.
Leaders in local agriculture, communications, service, government, medicine, energy, manufacturing and education gathered for lunch at the Hilton Garden Inn Wednesday to welcome North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker to the Roanoke Valley, and hear her take on how they fit into state plans for growth.
"You are the people in this county who get things done," said Halifax County Commissioner Chairman James Pierce in his welcoming statements.
Pierce explained Decker was on a tour of Halifax County, looking at the county's assets and challenges.
Decker called it a windshield tour, adding she learned a lot about the county's economic development challenges, tourism and other assets.
"I have a great empathy for your area as you have gone though a tremendous amount of change," she said.
Decker said there is good news — she believes Halifax County has a competitive edge over other areas.
She said the overall cooperative attitudes and partnerships between the county, the towns and businesses in Halifax County is outstanding.
"You are very wellpositioned, I'm impressed," she said. "You know what your assets are. There's a great partnership between the county and towns. Everyone is working together. I see a real community vision. That's rare."
She said many rural areas stopped investing in their futures with the economic decline.
She complimented Halifax County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Cathy Scott and the county.
"You have tremendous assets," she said.
"Your investments in infrastructure has positioned you for growth. Even with the decline, you are positioned for growth."
Decker said the state wants to help by moving faster and being more fl exible on development plans, and by helping already established small businesses through deregulation.
"The best investment in the state is businesses already located in North Carolina," she said. "We need to do things to get out of the way of small business development."
She said the state is working to transform The Rural Center and other programs to provide a one-stop option for funding, which will improve economic development services.
Decker said she would like to see increased exports, including agriculture.
"We have enough land we can feed the hungry world," she said.
"And the Secretary of Agriculture wants to do that."
After the luncheon, Pierce said he was very impressed with Decker.
"She quickly absorbed a lot about where we are," he said.
"I believe something good will come out of the restructuring. It will be easier to seek funding. I'm hopeful this will help us get to where we want to be."
Representing the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, Earl Evans said his people are interested in continuing to engage in partnerships with the county and other entities to "collectively enhance the economy of Halifax County."
"Hopefully (Decker) will continue the commitment to include the Haliwa- Saponi tribe's economy as part of the efforts of the administration," he said.
Halifax Regional CEO/President Will Mahone said, "I thought it was important for her to see the unique needs of a rural community and how it compares to urban centers that have more resources."
ROANOKE RAPIDS — Halifax County is now on the forefront of solar energy technology in the Southeast thanks to a collaboration between the county and green-energy companies like Geenex.
A new solar panel was constructed outside of the Halifax County Visitors Center Thursday as an example of the panels that will eventually be built at the old Halifax Airport.
“It’s a great day ... They (Geenex and its partners) bring a new industry in Halifax County,” said Cathy Scott, executive director for the Halifax County Economic Development Commission.
During “Solar Day in Halifax County” Geenex CEO Georg Veit addressed a crowd of county officials, business owners and interested residents about the progress his company has made.
“This is the start of the project we’re building out there (the old airport), so in a way, this is the first day of construction of this project,” Veit said.
The new panel just outside of the center, was constructed by workers from Schletter, a company that helps produce frames for solar panels.
The construction Geenex is working on is not going to be all about solar panels though.
Scott noted it would create jobs for the county. Geenex is obligated to create 12 full-time jobs, but there would be more opportunities when it comes to building the solar panels and property. Mike Whitson, president of Paradigm Consulting Group, a partner with Geenex, estimated between 50 and 100 people would be needed to build the project.
Veit said the company is also planning on building a Solar Center of Excellence, which would provide a means of education about solar energy for residents and visitors. The center would use one of the pre-existing buildings on the property.
Whitson said he wants Halifax County to became the focal point for solar energy.
“This has been a long road for me,” Whitson said. “When I was wondering curiously why Halifax County had two airports ... oh there’s an old airport, maybe we could have a good use for it.”
Thus began the work to create a solar power field. With most of the land already developed and ready to build on, the solar companies just have to re-purpose buildings they need and start installing the solar panels. The plan is to develop 120 acres for solar power.
The Center for Excellence would bring together local schools and colleges to develop educational initiatives and training related to solar energy. Beyond that, Scott said, it would also be a means of bringing in tourists to see how solar energy can be produced.
“We want to really make Halifax County the solar center of the Southeast, and we’re really well on our way to accomplishing that goal,” Whitson said.
Once the first round of buildings is complete, Whitson said there could be an expansion on the land. Scott said the use of the land would bring “income for idle property.”
The construction of a sawmill in Enfield could lead to the formation of a “cluster” of related businesses around it.
Klausner Trading U.S.A. President Thomas Mende recently told the Halifax Business Horizons membership the company’s existing sawmills have experienced “clustering” around those facilities.
At one of the mills, Mende said, a facility which takes the sawmill’s sawdust for use, a palette company has set up shop, a pellet company has set up shop, and there are facilities which take resin from the wood Klausner uses as well.
This clustering, Mende said, means job creation, tax revenue and business revenue, and is something he’s expecting to happen when the company constructs Klausner Mill No. 2 in Enfield.
“Those companies that form those clusters can get 40 to 60 percent of their raw material from one source,” Mende said.
“It’s a model of economic development that makes the most sense and is definitely a good business model.”
Mende said Klausner’s mills employ a total of around 1,400 people, though the actual sawing of the wood is surprisingly efficient.
“The sawmill is one person,” Mende said.
“But there are eight people planning the diagrams, looking at sizes, looking at orders we have, and trying to determine how we can get the most lumber out of each log.”
Klausner’s equipment, such as the saws being put into the Enfield facility, are capable of meeting every lumber measurement currently in use anywhere in the world, Mende said, which sets Klausner apart in that they are capable of exporting more wood than their competitors.
Mende said he expects big plans out of the Enfield mill, and he’s looking forward to continuing to work with Cathy Scott and the Halifax County Economic Development Board.
“We met with a number of economic development boards across the east,” Mende said.
“Cathy Scott and her people were always professional, always a step ahead of our problems.”
The Daily Herald Publisher Titus Workman said Mende’s remarks seemed to be very good news for Enfield and for the county in general, and he left with a lot of respect for Mende and Klausner.
“I was very impressed,” Workman said.
“And I was also impressed with the way (Mende) described how Klausner separates themselves from their competitors.”