Old Albemarle mall site to house retail, storage; Goodwill Industries confirmed for site

A special use permit to re-purpose the former shopping mall site at 814 N.C. Highway 24-27 East in Albemarle received unanimous approval from Albemarle City Council on Monday.

The facility, which in past years has housed J.C. Penney, Shoe Show and Hibbett Sports, and from the north side of which Belk currently operates, will be renovated to house four retail stores in addition to climate controlled storage as proposed in plans, submitted by local developer Dusty Mason of DILS Properties, LLC.

Travis Swain, senior planner with the city’s Planning and Development Services Department, explained the need for the proposed special use permit.

“In GHBD (General Highway Business District), special uses are permitted with approval of City Council,” he noted. “This is for individual compartmentalized controlled storage units.”

Swain then noted five stipulations required for such a permit to be issued, explaining that the plan, as presented, met all such prerequisites.

Mason then spoke about his proposal, and highlighted his company’s past projects as well as his vision for the East Albemarle facility.

“Over the last 20 years, some of the properties we’ve taken include the Delco Plaza, where Gold’s Gym is currently located,” he said. “We took that property, which was less than 4% leased at that time, to 100% occupied in about four years.”

In addition to the Five Points / Pontiac Pointe facility in downtown Albemarle and the new DMV offices, Mason added that his company had earlier taken the current Tractor Supply facility from 50% to 100% occupancy.

“And we have done this by focusing primarily on attracting locally-owned businesses as tenants,” he said.

As for the current proposal, Mason summarized the steps for successfully re-purposing the property.

“The challenge is, we have 142,000 square feet … how can we renovate the property, operate the property, lease it at competitive rates, and still do all the up-fits required?” said Mason, citing a new roof as an immediate need.

To meet the challenge, Mason explained that the front of the facility would consist of four retail spaces, while utilizing the rear of the facility (the old mall space) to generate revenue by developing a climate controlled compartmental storage facility there. Such revenue would be used in funding the needed renovations.

“We looked at what we don’t have here in Albemarle. We’ve got storage facilities, but no climate controlled ones,” he said, “and we felt like this was a great use.”

Mason also noted that Goodwill Industries has committed to occupy one of the four retail spaces, and that discussions with potential tenants for the remaining spaces are in progress.

Following discussion by Council, and acting upon a motion by Councilman Benton Dry and a second by Councilman Bill Aldridge, the motion to approve the special use permit was unanimously approved.