Plans for auto dealer development in the works

Jan. 04, 2013 @ 10:00 PM

Plans have been filed to develop an automobile dealership near The Streets at Southpoint in the location off Fayetteville Road where South Carolina developers were, at one time, looking to develop a Walmart shopping center.

The plans for a proposed approximately 170,000-square-foot development called Hendrick Southpoint are still under review with Durham City-County Planning.

Hendrick Automotive Group’s name is on the proposed development plan that was submitted to the planning department.

But Lewis Cheek, an attorney for the South-Carolina-based development company WRS Inc., which is involved in the project, said negotiations are ongoing to determine what dealership would actually occupy the development.

“Hendrick intends to put an auto park in at the property,” Cheek said. “They’re still under negotiations as to how that exactly will be handled. I’m not in a position to be able to respond to that right now because it’s not finalized.”

A call made to a spokeswoman for Hendrick Automotive Group was not directly returned Friday. The Charlotte-based company operates 85 dealerships in 12 states, according to its website http://www.hendrickauto.com/corporate.html.

In addition, a call made to the general manager of the Hendrick Durham Auto Mall was also not returned Friday. The auto mall, located on South Roxboro Street, sells new Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick vehicles, as well as used vehicles.

“It wouldn’t necessarily just be Hendrick – they’re still in negotiations,” Cheek said. “I can’t tell you for sure who the players will be at this point.”

The name of the applicant behind the plan is Durham Investments LLC, which is listed as having the same address as South Carolina-based WRS.

In addition, the name of the contact on the rezoning application that was submitted to the city is listed as the chief operating officer for WRS.

According to the application, the developer is applying to rezone 33 acres of residential land near the intersection of Fayetteville Road and Kentington Drive.

In addition, Cheek said a request has also been made to annex the property into the city.

However, Scott Whiteman, planning supervisor with Durham City-County Planning, said in an email message that as “far as we know,” the land has not been purchased.

WRS Inc. is the same company that was looking to develop a shopping center with a Walmart Stores Inc. location on the land, which is in what’s now the Kentington Heights neighborhood.

However, the company withdrew its rezoning request, according to previous reports in The Herald-Sun.

The company had learned that state regulators wouldn’t let it divert a stream via pipe under the prospective shopping center’s driveway, the report said.

In addition, a planning official said in that report that project leaders were under pressure at that time because options they had to buy property in the neighborhood were close to expiring.

“You’d have to talk to the developer directly about what they’ve done in terms of being able to purchase the property,” Cheek said, in response to questions about the status of the property. “I know that they are in a position to purchase the property if the property is properly zoned for the use to which they want to put it.” 

Durham resident Joe Lomick, who lives on Kentington Drive in the neighborhood where the developer is looking to build the project, said a meeting was held for landowners in the neighborhood in October at a nearby church building. While he didn’t go, he said he spoke to some of his neighbors about it.

He said the developer is looking to buy land to pave the way for a luxury car dealership.

“All I heard was that it was going to be a luxury car dealer,” he said.

Lomick said that WRS Inc. is just one of a series of developers that have looked at developing the land.

“I’ve signed too many contracts it’s not even funny,” he said.

Lomick said he’s lived in the location since 1977, but wants to leave because of water and sewer issues, and also because he believes the “whole area is just falling down.” He said residents aren’t fixing up their properties in anticipation of a sale.

“We’ve been, like, getting ready to sell our property for the last 14 years,” he said. “You don’t want to fix it; if they tear it down, you waste the money.”