Tennessee firm buys Albertsons for development

Friday, August 2, 2002

A Nashville-based development group has reached a deal to buy the former Albertsons building in Cape Girardeau and has already held discussions with interested tenants such as Kohl's, Kroger and Food Lion.

The group -- MRW Retail -- has inked a contract to buy the building at the corner of Independence and Kingshighway and the deal is set to close Aug. 23, said Glenn Wilson, a partner in the three-man development group.

The group is buying the 7,560-square-foot building and property in conjunction with the purchase of other Albertsons stores in Hot Springs, Ark., and Nashville. Wilson would not divulge the purchase price.

Albertsons closed in March after being open for 13 months.

Wilson confirmed he has "at least talked" with some interested tenants, including Wisconsin-based Kohl's Department Store, and grocery store chains Kroger, Schnucks, Food Lion and Wal-Mart.

"I've talked to all those folks and some others," Wilson said. "We have some interest, but nothing's real close as far as getting a deal done. We're still trying to get a handle on the market."

Some local people also have expressed interest in building a convenience store where the Albertsons fuel center was located, he said.

Marketing plan

Wilson said the group -- he wouldn't name the other partners -- doesn't have a plan for the property, other than to market it, and then sell it or lease it. He said nothing has been ruled out, even making it into a strip mall.

"We just bought it thinking it was good real estate," Wilson said. "We also think it's a great market and are excited about the possibilities. It's a beautiful building."

Any deal will take some time even after a client to acquire the property is determined, Wilson said.

"If we started working the deal tomorrow, it would take 60 days," he said. "But we're optimistic about the property and we wouldn't be buying it if we weren't."

Wilson is also the president of South Star, a commercial development company that builds shopping centers. A sign placed in front of the store limits a South Star phone number.

Talk about Wal-Mart may seem misplaced, considering there is already a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Cape Girardeau. But some have speculated that Wal-Mart may be considering a "groceries-only" store to compete more directly with Schnucks.

Representatives for Wal-Mart, Kohl's, Food Lion and Kroger did not return phone calls Thursday.

Schnucks' store manager Dennis Marchi confirmed that his store's ownership has looked at the building. "I won't say they were interested," Marchi said of Schnucks' executives. "That may be overstating it a bit, but they looked at the possibility."

Marchi said that Schnucks showed some interest in buying the building and leasing it to someone to make sure it didn't become a competing grocery store. But Marchi said he doesn't believe it will be another grocery store.

"How many have failed?" Marchi said. "There is not enough business to support another grocery store -- not enough to be profitable, let's put it that way."

In addition to Albertsons, several grocery stores have left this market in the past several years. Del Farm, a store in the National Grocery chain, closed at 121 N. Sprigg in 1995. Shop 'n Save, 254 S. Silver Springs Road, closed in 1996 after being built in 1991. Mr. K's Food Center, located on Silver Springs Road, closed in 1999.

Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president and CEO John Mehner, who has worked with the Nashville group on finding a tenant, agreed that another grocery may not be the "highest and best use."

"There is a possibility that this market is saturated," Mehner said.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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