Food Lion to close in University Drive shopping center

Aug. 20, 2013 @ 06:02 PM

The Food Lion grocery store on University Drive in Durham is closing at the end of the month, months after a Kmart store in the same shopping center shut its doors for good.

A sign on the front of the grocery store was posted Tuesday, announcing a 50 percent off closing sale. Another sign directed customers to other stores on Chapel Hill Road, Hope Valley Road and Fayetteville Street.

Christy Phillips-Brown, a spokeswoman for the Salisbury-based grocery store chain, which is a subsidiary of the Delhaize Group in Brussels, said the store is closing because the location’s lease is ending.

The lease negotiations details are confidential, she said, but she confirmed that store officials made the decision to close the location.

Food Lion is working to place store employees at other stores.

“For associates who are interested in remaining at the company, we are working to find those associates other positions within the greater market,” Phillips-Brown said.

Another business, Travel Leaders Durham, also is moving out of the center after its lease expires Sept. 30, said Sarah Waxler, president. She said the travel agency has been in the shopping center for 27 years.

“It’s a very hard decision to move out of a shopping center after you’ve been there that long because people know (you’re) there, and you have very good visibility – we’re going to lose all that with the move,” she said. “I still feel like it’s the right decision at this point.”

Waxler said she has too much space, and rental costs in the location are too high. Despite the large openings in the center, she said the landlord is marketing the space at a high rate, and is “not inclined to work with me on any real break in rent.”

“They don’t seem to have any redevelopment plans – not that they’re sharing at least – yet they’re very adamant that their spaces should command a certain amount,” Waxler said. She added that she has been looking at lots of spaces, including retail space for lease and office-condo space, and has found that many center landlords, particularly in the South Square area, aren’t very willing to negotiate

Waxler said she expects traffic at the University Drive shopping center to be affected by both the closures of the Food Lion and the Kmart.

“I don’t know that for us, particularly, that’s relevant because we’re in a different part of the center,” she said.   

Paige Boyette, marketing coordinator for the University Drive shopping center’s landlord, Raleigh-based Rivercrest Realty Investors, declined to comment.

Some customers were not happy about Food Lion’s impending closure on Tuesday.

Cornelia Venerable of Brier Creek said she was concerned about how other businesses in the center will fare.

“Those are the two biggest stores they have over here,” she said of the Food Lion and former Kmart. “I would think the Food Lion (generated) the most traffic.”

Delaine Norwood said she lives in Chapel Hill near other Food Lion locations. Although the closure isn’t expected to change her shopping routine, she was concerned about whether all of the store employees would find new placements.

“I just hate the fact that somebody’s not going to get a job, and that’s not good at this time,” she said.

The Kmart closed in the shopping center in January. It had first opened in the location in 1983. A company official had said in an email that the decision was made not to renew the lease because of the location’s performance.