Downtown Hendrick dealership site under contract
The Hendrick Durham Automall is expected to move from its downtown location on South Roxboro Street to a new site that’s under construction near The Streets at Southpoint.
Although the dealership hasn’t made the move yet, an investor group has the dealership’s existing downtown site under contract, according to officials connected to the project.
Charlotte-based Southern Apartment Group, a firm that has developed mixed-use as well as office, retail, and apartment projects, is reportedly working with an investor group to buy the property.
According to marketing materials for the property, the firm is looking to close on the property by September of this year. It won’t take possession of the site until the dealership completes the move, said Charles Lindsey McAlpine, the manager of the Charlotte-based firm.
Hendrick Automotive Group officials were initially targeting opening a new Mercedes-Benz dealership near The Streets at Southpoint by June, and to move the Durham Automall in the fall. Weather delayed the Mercedes-Benz project, which is now targeted to open later this year.
McAlpine said that the group is talking to potential partners that would help develop the site. He said Southern Apartment Group doesn’t have a site plan detailing what the project would look like, and hasn’t determined what exactly will be built there.
“Cleary, (this property) is going to be the gateway into Durham, which is very attractive,” McAlpine said. “I think anyone across the nation right now is becoming interested in Durham, in my opinion.”
Marcus Jackson, managing director of urban investments for TradeMark Properties, a Raleigh-based commercial real estate company that’s marketing the property, said there are several possible plans for the site.
“We don’t know what the end game will be, but virtually, any scenario is going to include a residential component, multi-family, it’s going to include office, it’s my belief that there’s hotel demand, and it is going to include some component of retail, certainly restaurants,” he said.
Jackson said they’ve seen a “significant level of interest” in the property from potential partners. And while he said in the recent past downtown Durham’s revitalization has been led by entrepreneurial investors, Capitol Broadcasting Co. and Duke University, they’ve garnered interest from national developers.
“There is a most definite run-up in activity in downtown,” Jackson also said. “Not only for our site, but for most everything.”
In addition to its high visibility from N.C. 147 and at the “front door” of downtown Durham, Jackson said the project is also attractive because of its location near one of the planned transit stops for the proposed regional light rail project.
Orange and Durham voters have passed half-cent sales tax increases for transit expenditures — including raising money for a proposed regional rail system — although Wake County officials have not.
Brad Schulz, a spokesman for the Triangle Transit Authority, said in an email that the lack of a sales tax referendum in Wake County does not have any impact on the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project.
The proposed project runs 17 miles between UNC Hospitals and East Durham, with 17 proposed stations within the borders of the two counties. In February, the Federal Transit Administration selected the project as one of two projects in the country to proceed under the “New Starts” program for transit.
The authority is working on a draft environmental impact statement for the project and the final is expected in 2016, according to Schulz. If the project proceeds, service would not begin until 2025 or 2026.
Steve Medlin, director of Durham City-County Planning, said in an email that the proposed light rail station on Dillard Street would not be located on the site, but would be next to the railway. The site would need to be re-zoned to allow for a mixed-use project, he said.