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Still No Decision on Old Kmart Property in Boone: Harris Teeter has an Option, Publix Looks To Be Next In Line

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 4, 2014. It appears an announcement of what business will occupy the old Kmart property in Boone is still months away.

Kmart closed down in September. Months before the “everything-must-go” sale, a group purchased the property for $6,975,000 in June.

Equity Resource Partners III LLC of Georgia, Granite Falls Land & Investment of North Carolina, Watson Commercial Development Inc. of North Carolina and Robert Carroll Carver of North Carolina purchased the property. The three former companies list either Ron Turner Jr. of Davidson-based Piedmont Land Development or Jeff Watson of Piedmont Land Development as registered agents on corporation forms filed with the N.C. Secretary of State.

Watson said that he would “be able to provide information in about four months” and Turner responded, “We cannot comment on this situation at this time.”

In late October, Boone Planning & Inspections Director Bill Bailey wrote in an email: “No applications yet, but we have had conversations with several developer groups representing anonymous grocery store clients. That is all I know at this time.”

On Thursday, Bailey confirmed that Harris Teeter has an option on the Kmart property. If that option expires, Publix Super Markets is “good possibility” to be next in line. Bailey assumed that this would be a “pre-emptive move” on Harris Teeter’s part because of a comment representatives have made about Publix making it “tough” on Harris Teeter if it were to move along the Blowing Rock Road corridor.

Since the summer, Publix has been the company rumored the most to occupy the old Kmart property.

Publix has hundreds of stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.

It first opened a North Carolina store in Charlotte in February 2014. Since then several more have opened in Charlotte and more are planned to open in 2015 and 2016. It also opened a store in Cary and an Asheville store is planned to open early next year.

Reached for comment about a potential Boone location, Kimberly Reynolds, a regional spokesperson for Publix, said, “While we are looking to expand across North Carolina, we do not have a confirmed site in Boone currently. As an aside, we don’t comment on potential locations, only those where we have an executed lease.”

A spokesperson for Harris Teeter, Danna Jones responded, “It is against our corporate policy to discuss stores unless we are currently operating at the location or have executed a lease for a future site.”

In September, Turner told Watauga Democrat that his group was “continuing conversations with multiple parties” about leasing the property. Turner said at the time a deal was expected to be finalized in October or November.

Other Chain News

Long John Silver’s closed earlier this month. Bailey said that there has been some interest in the vacant building.

A Zaxby’s has been planned at the corner of N.C. 105 Extension and State Farm Road for at least a year. In February, the Boone Board of Adjustment approved a couple variance requests and a special use permit for the chicken restaurant. However, he said that Zaxby’s hasn’t begun construction because the company hasn’t provided plans that prove they “conform.” To his knowledge, Bailey said that Zaxby’s still has plans to open a restaurant at the location.