Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Anchor buys University Plaza for $4.55 million

Anchor Properties has completed the purchase of University Plaza in Corryville from the Marge and Charles J. Schott Foundation for $4.55 million, signaling that redevelopment of the shopping center may be getting closer to reality.

Foundation trustees had not wanted to sell the asset because its occupancy rates remained relatively high and it continued to provide revenue, but finally put the property up for sale a year ago.

Anchor Properties had an option to purchase the property through August and had already invested more than $100,000 in the project, but had been reluctant to go through with a sale without some assurances that the development would move forward.

The most recent plan for the 7-acre site, developed by Cole + Russell Architects and Kinzelman Kline Gossman and released in July, shows a new Kroger, Walgreen's, and retail outlot, with massive amounts of surface parking, only slight changes to the street grid and no reconnection of Vine Street and Short Vine.

In September, the Uptown Consortium and Towne Properties, with whom they are working on broader redevelopment initiatives, announced that they had given up on trying to reconnect the streets, citing that doing so would not work for the tenants and would conflict with economic realities.

In 2004, while City council was considering approval of the University Village Urban Design Plan, the Corryville Economic Development Corp. advocated the reconnection of Short Vine to Vine Street as a way to boost traffic counts along the retail strip.

Some in the neighborhood would like to see other transportation options accommodated as well.

On November 11, the Corryville Community Council (CCC) passed a resolution supporting a development plan for the site that would "not preclude the possibility for a future Vine to Short Vine streetcar reconnection" by a vote of 16-1, which was forwarded to City council for consideration.

Peter Dryer, a medical resident at UC and Corryville homeowner, explained to the CCC that Short Vine would lose the economic benefits that a streetcar would bring if the City selects the Jefferson Avenue route, which the Uptown Consortium advocates, or a Clifton Avenue route, for which various CUF organizations are pushing.

Dryer had speculated that a previous CCC approval of the suburban-style site plan was a result of "middle aged landlords" who failed to see the future value that a streetcar would bring, and were willing to cave in to Kroger for fear of losing the development altogether.

At the November 11 CCC meeting, Mike Ealy said that he didn't want to jeopardize the redevelopment of University Plaza by forcing the streetcar issue, after which Dryer said that the community shouldn't be forced to choose between the two.

Anchor Properties, headquartered in the Toll House at the foot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge in Covington, has been developing commercial properties since 1987 and has offices in Charlotte and Grand Rapids.

Previous reading on BC:
Corryville homeowner says Kroger development would hinder streetcar (8/6/08)
Uptown Consortium moves on Short Vine purchases (7/23/08)
Action taken on University Plaza (1/2/08)