Select Past Project Highlights:
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.
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.
Among its first tasks as a great community partner, Walgreens agreed to move its building off the corner of the planned site, allowing for the fire station to remain. They also agreed to consider a unique architectural design based on citizen input, presenting several design themes for the neighborhood’s consideration. 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 site plans also included restoring the exterior of the fire station to its former glory, while renovating the interior for retail/restaurant uses. The undertaking consisted of raising the fire station bays in the rear of the building so that the entire floor was on the same elevation; creating a raised patio; and cleaning up environmental contamination from prior uses.
In the end, the project exceeded all expectations. Walgreens was welcomed into the community and now sits as part of a striking architectural project; the neighborhood had a prominent corner developed into a first class interesting new drug store and a once dilapidated historic building was restored to its proper glory; and the restaurant and hair salon that sat on the site prior to development were able to relocate to the restored fire station, a better facility within steps of their previous locations.
Project Timeframe: 3 ½ to 4 years
Project Value: $8.2 million
Specs: 1.18 acres; 17,055 total square feet
Beaver Ruin Village was one of the first shopping centers developed by CONNOLLY in 1975. It originally contained the first Kmart in Gwinnett County, a small Kroger and a strong collection of local shops. Kroger expanded in 1978 from 28,000 square feet to 44,000 square feet because of its initial success, 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.
An extensive marketing effort did not uncover many suitable and willing prospects, but Kroger was still performing well and was a prospect to possibly expand. Unfortunately, Kroger had just emerged from a buyout threat and had distributed to shareholders nearly all the equity in the company paid by new debt, resulting in a very overleveraged company with a poor credit rating and a halted expansion program. 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.
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. Many code waivers were needed from the City of Lilburn, which understood the benefits of the redevelopment and were most helpful in assisting the efforts. CONNOLLY agreed to redevelop the former Kroger space once Kroger moved. After study and marketing, it was determined 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 very close to full occupancy.
In summary, 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. We continued to manage, renovate, release and do everything possible for the project to maintain its dominant position in the Lilburn market. 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
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