Sold, leased, built: area commercial development sprinting along

Monday, September 19, 2005
A new Aldi store is being built on South Main Street in Sikeston. Many commercial buildings are going up in the region.

Area economic developers and real estate agents say commercial activity is brisk -- empty buildings are being leased, others have prospective buyers and new businesses are opening at a good clip.

Ed Dust, director of economic development in Sikeston, said Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores has a new owner. On July 21 ownership changed when Sikeston Outlet Mall LLC purchased the mall from its original developer, Boyer Construction Co., which began construction of the mall in 1993. The new owner is headquartered in St. Louis and will operate the mall in association with Meridian Asset Management LLC.

"The commercial activity around here has been pretty brisk," said Dust. "There's a new Aldi's grocery store on South Main Street. The old Aldi's on Malone Street was demolished, and that new building went up quick.

"Our first Walgreens recently opened, and construction is almost finished on the strip center behind Walgreens. We've had quite a few lookers at some available commercial buildings."

David Donley, owner of Commercial Real Estate Specialists in Cape Girardeau, has commercial properties throughout Cape Girardeau County and in Perryville, Dexter and Poplar Bluff. He said Cape County is a good gauge of what's going on in the region.

"The Cape area is a little more stable and more robust than other areas because we have close to 165 manufacturing firms and about 68 industries," said Donley. "We have close to a $1.2 billion annual retail sales market here, and that type of base feeds the commercial real estate market here."

Donley said many people are taking their money out of the stock market and investing in real estate. He expects to soon sell the former Sonic Drive-in in Perryville to an investor.

Larry Tucker, executive director of the Perry County Industrial Development Authority, said there's plenty of commercial activity in Perryville.

"There are many new businesses east of the interstate and before you get into the downtown area," he said. "The first wing of Crossroads Village recently opened, and the second wing of the 27,000-square-foot open-air mall is under construction and will open in 30 to 60 days."

Tucker said businesses that quickly moved into the first wing of the mall are Coldwell Banker Realty, Verizon Wireless, The Portrait Studio and Pizza Inn.

Tucker said construction has started on a 12,000-square-foot spec building in the industrial park, and the building should be complete in 60 to 90 days.

In Cape Girardeau, Montgomery Bank has acquired a one and a-half acre site on Mount Auburn Road from Drury Southwest for a full-service branch, just south of William Street. Montgomery Bank regional president Jim Limbaugh said the location is a high-traffic area. Construction is under way.

Bening Automotive Group's new full-service Mazda dealership is taking shape on Siemers Drive, just south of Bluff City Beer Co. in Cape Girardeau. General manager Mike Schumer said the new dealership, on 2.5 acres, should be open in January or February.

The new Sears Grand sits on valuable commercial property on Siemers Drive. It is slated to open soon.

At Siemers Drive and Lambert Street, Lambert Plaza is being built.

Tom Kelsey, commercial broker for Lorimont Place Ltd. in Cape Girardeau, said he recently sold the former Davis Electric building on North Spring Street to a local contractor. Kelsey said plans are to renovate the building into commercial spaces for lease.

Among other properties Kelsey is marketing is Plaza Galleria at 2001 Independence in Cape Girardeau. It's a 56,450-square-foot structure that was a part of Cape Girardeau's business scene for decades. Once there were more than 20 businesses there including an ice skating rink that closed in 2003. Kelsey said it's been on the market since May 2004 and is listed at $2.2 million.

"I've had some activity on that building," he said. "I'm optimistic that someone will step up and make it viable."

Kelsey said the former True Value store in Jackson has been purchased by a Dexter businessman, and a 78,000-square-foot warehouse in Dexter was recently leased. Last April, Buchheit, an area home and farm supplier, bought the former Supervalue distribution center in Scott City. No sales price was disclosed, but Kelsey said the 260,000-square-foot property was listed at $3,750,000.

Shogun Japanese Steak and Sushi bar is under construction at 289 S. Broadview St. in the South Broadview Plaza in Cape Girardeau.

The Target store at 202 Siemers Drive in Cape West Business Park has plans to expand, according to a spokesman at Minneapolis-based Target Group. Plans on file with the city show that Target intends to enlarge the store by 11,138 square feet to a total of 107,241 square feet. The expansion could occur next year.

Drury Land Development Inc. is planning a new Sonic Drive-In Restaurant at 262 Siemers Drive, according to director of development Al Liescheidt. The new Sonic is being started by a franchisee out of Kentucky called D&B. Construction has started in Cape West Plaza near Target. It is expected to open within the next 30 to 60 days.

The new Rhodes 101 has opened at 1620 North Kingshighway between Bank of Missouri and Plaza Tire. Co-owner Jim Maurer said the store is 4,500 square feet on about three acres, almost double the size of the store it's replacing about a block south.

"We'll be redeveloping the former location," said Maurer. "We're not ready to make an announcement yet, but we've had some inquiries about it."

Thomas M. Meyer of Thomas L. Meyer Real Estate Co. in Cape Girardeau is also not ready to announce some projects he's working on.

"I've got some good ones in the works, but confidentiality is all important in this business," he said.

Meyer said he likes to concentrate on specialty projects such as the Marquette Towers that he helped bring back to life last year. He worked on that venture for three years, which he said was a short period of time in his business.

His longest project to date was getting the Federal Courthouse project site underway. Although the building is now well into construction, it took Meyer eight years to get through the paperwork and bureaucracy.

Meyer said it's not uncommon for him to go to New York City or Washington, D.C., to discuss commercial business that relates to the Cape area.

"And I've got something percolating on the West Coast," he said. "I have international contacts, and I've been to Tokyo. Those are long-term relationships."

Meyer has made public at least one commercial property he is trying to sell -- the former Marjorie's Restaurant in East Cape Girardeau. It went on the market in late July. There's a for sale sign hanging on the front. But Meyer said that should change soon.

"It's going to be open again. We're talking to some people who have expressed a real interest in it," he said.

King's Center, a newly built retail center at 1131 N. Kingshighway, has a number of tenants doing business.

On North Kingshighway, past the intersection with Lexington Avenue, North Pointe Center is in early stages of development.

Texas Roadhouse opened Sept. 12 at a very visible location east of Interstate 55 near Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. Local commercial real estate agent Cynthia Austin worked six years to land the Louisville, Ky.-based franchise.

"It sits on prime commercial property near Doctors' Park," she said.

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