Burlington Coat Factory, Ross likely to move into old Walmart

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9:16 a.m.

The owner of the vacant Walmart building on Northwest 13th Street is in final negotiations to bring in a Burlington Coat Factory and a Ross Dress for Less to open in about a year after redeveloping the plaza.

Bryan Foxworthy, development manager for Kite Realty Group of Indianapolis, Ind., confirmed that the company is about a week away from finalizing leases with the retailers whose names appear on redevelopment plans submitted to the city.

Foxworthy said the building would open in the second quarter of 2015. That would be two years after Walmart closed its 20-year-old store at 2643 NW 13th St. and relocated to 5700 NW 23rd St.

Once the leases are signed, Foxworthy said Kite Realty would like to start renovating the interior as soon as possible. Plans also call for parking, lighting and facade renovations to the rest of Gainesville Plaza, which includes Books-A-Million, Save-A-Lot, Bealls and 10 smaller storefronts.

Foxworthy said it can be difficult to fill a big box store.

"It's tough because a lot of retailers these days have their standard prototypes that they don't vary from much at all, but luckily with the way Walmart was laid out, the two retailers we're going to have backfilling it, we were able to work it out," he said.

Plans call for Burlington to occupy the northern portion of the old Walmart, with Ross south of that and another 11,000 square feet of the 103,000-square-foot building available for lease.

Commercial Realtor Betsy Whitaker of Asset Management said the new stores will make a huge difference to other stores in the area that lost probably 25 to 30 percent of their business when Walmart closed in January 2013.

Whitaker said she is negotiating with a tenant to move into the anchor space in the nearby Verde Plaza on the southwest corner of Northwest 13th Street and 23rd Avenue that will complement the new stores. She also represents the old Gainesville Mall location across from Gainesville Plaza.

"It's synergistic anytime you get somebody coming in, and especially somebody as formidable as Burlington and Ross. It helps the whole area," she said.

The loss of Walmart was the biggest blow to the area that also saw Albertson's and Sticks ‘N' Stuff close in 2011. Big Lots moved into part of the old Albertson's building last year.

Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group recently announced redevelopment plans for the old Sticks ‘N' Stuff building, including facade work, and is marketing it for tenants to take the entire 26,000 square feet or divide the building into bays as small as 2,500 square feet.

The addition of Burlington and Ross to the area fits into what has become a discount shopping destination that includes Sam's Club, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Big Lots and Bealls.

Burlington Coat Factory describes itself as an off-price apparel and home product retailer, with prices up to 70 percent off department store prices for coats, clothing, shoes, linens and home decor. The location would be the first for Burlington in Gainesville.

Ross Dress for Less, which has a store in Butler Plaza, also describes itself as an off-price apparel and home fashion chain with prices of 20 to 60 percent off department and specialty store prices on apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions.

A Burlington official said he could not comment Wednesday because the company is in a quiet period before issuing its quarterly stock earnings report. Ross' investor relations did not reply to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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