New Walmart planned for Winston-Salem shopping center

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The Northchase Shopping Center on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 in Winston-Salem, N.C. Walmart Real Estate Business Trust paid $216,000 to buy a 49,296-square-foot site on the south end of Northchase Shopping Center at 5109 University Parkway, according to Forsyth County Register of Deeds data. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Walmart’s plans to expand its neighborhood grocery market concept in Winston-Salem could breathe new life into a shopping center that’s lacked an anchor for 12½ years, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Walmart Real Estate Business Trust paid $216,000 to buy a 49,296-square-foot site on the south end of Northchase Shopping Center at 5109 University Parkway, according to Forsyth County Register of Deeds data.

The transaction was completed Friday, with Northchase II LLC listed as the sellers.

The proposed store would be 2.3 miles away from a Walmart superstore at 320 E Hanes Mill Road.

Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz said Wednesday he was not able to discuss Walmart’s plans for the site.

According to plans submitted to the City-County Planning Board, Walmart plans to tear down the former Shopper’s Paradise and Kroger site and build a 42,700-square-foot store, said Chris Murphy, the board’s deputy director of planning and development services.

The store would be similar in scope to the Walmart store that was approved in November by the Winston-Salem City Council on Country Club Road near Meadowlark Drive. Grading has taken place at that site. The store is about 3.1 miles from the Walmart supercenter at 4550 Kester Mill Road.

There also are plans to open a Walmart grocery store at Lexington Plaza shopping center this year.

Murphy said that since the Northchase site is zoned for highway business services, Walmart’s request would not need council approval.

“We have not issued a building permit to Walmart, although permits have been issued for work on a retaining wall behind the store and for grading,” he said.

Murphy said he understands Walmart and the shopping center’s owner are negotiating about the appearance of the grocery store and of the overall site. Ligon Commercial Real Estate handles the marketing of the property.

The 90,092-square-foot shopping center was built in 1988 with Kroger serving as its anchor until 1999. It has not had an anchor since February 2002, when Shopper’s Paradise exited the market.

According to the April retail shopping center survey by Michael S. Clapp & Associates Inc. about 31,000 square feet is being leased by a wide variety of small tenants that includes restaurants, business centers, laundromat, bakery, small food shops, recreation outlets and a bar.

There is little evidence of any recent upgrading to the exterior of the shopping center outside some bushes being uprooted along the main entrance.

“Since Kroger closed, Northchase has usually suffered from a higher vacancy rate than most other shopping centers in the Winston-Salem area,” said Paul Carter, a commercial real estate appraiser with Michael S. Clapp.

“I believe a new Walmart neighborhood market will significantly increase traffic at that center and boost demand for retail space.”

Carter said the 2.3-mile distance between the Walmarts “will be closer, but not significantly closer, to a Walmart supercenter than other grocery stores they are opening in the Triad.”

Karina Pineda, an employee with Northchase Business Center, said she hopes having Walmart would generate greater foot traffic for the business, which has been a tenant since 2010.

“Having Walmart in the shopping center would help bring more attention to what else is here,” Pineda said.

Nathaniel Slaughter lives across the street from the shopping center in Maris Village – one of five apartment communities within walking distance.

“I’ve been here about 14 years and I never thought I would see the day that this shopping center would get a Walmart,” Slaughter said. “Having a shorter walk for groceries should appeal to a lot of apartment dwellers.”

A Food Lion and a Target store also are within walking distance of the apartments.

“Since I’ve been unemployed since November, I’m hoping that Walmart will bring some good jobs to the area as well so I can get back to work,” Slaughter said.