A massive, long-dormant development near Staples Mill Road and Libbie Avenue is back on track.
Gumenick Properties plans to break ground in the fall on an 80-acre mixed-use development, known for now as Staples Mill Center, after announcing Thursday that it had landed a commercial anchor tenant for the project.
Southern Season, a high-end grocery store based in North Carolina, is slated to move into 50,000 square feet on the southeastern side of the development, which is bound by Bethlehem Road, Staples Mill Road and Libbie Avenue. The store should be up and running by mid-2014, said Wayne Chasen, head of Gumenick Properties.
“Southern Season had identified 10 southern cities they wanted to expand to, and Richmond was one,” Chasen said. “They looked at a number of sites, but ultimately they liked this one because of its proximity to [Interstate] 64.”
The plan for Staples Mill Center – the placeholder name will change soon, Chasen said – calls for almost 1,000 houses, 1,100 apartments, 150,000 square feet of retail and 50,000 square feet of office space.
The property has sat vacant for at least 10 years since Gumenick razed the apartment complex that had been there. The development project was put on hold because of the economic slowdown.
A previous estimate for the development, which will take the best part of 10 years to complete, put the cost at $434 million. But Chasen said that number was a pre-recession estimate and was probably no longer accurate.
The Southern Season store will be the second major tenant to land in Staples Mill Center.
In June, Gumenick signed a deal to build a three-story, 50,000-square-foot public library for Henrico County on the property.
Along with the announcement of the Southern Season location, Chasen said Gumenick is planning to develop a second 40,000-square-foot, two-story retail strip with office on the second floor where the developer would move its headquarters.
Chasen would not say when work would begin on the residential portion of the development.
“I can’t say a quarter or a year, but, with things aligning the way they are, I expect it will be soon,” Chasen said.
Gumenick has been on the go in the past year. In April, the developer was moving ahead with a 12-unit condo building and community center in its Monument Square development near Willow Lawn Drive and West Broad Street.
The company is also developing the Grayson Hill property at North Gaskins Road and Patterson Avenue.
Southern Season signed a 20-year lease on the new property, Chasen said, with multiple options. Barry Hofheimer and Alex Hamilton, both brokers with CBRE, represented the grocery store in the deal.
The Chapel Hill-based store is in the midst of a major expansion. Its original store was family-owned and opened in 1975. In 2011, it was purchased by a private equity fund, TC Capital Fund, made up of Carrboro Capital and Tryon Capital, from the same area of North Carolina.
Clay Hamner, head of Carrboro Capital, said the Richmond store would cost about $10 million to develop and is part of a $100 million-plus expansion to 10 cities across the South.
Once all the stores are open, Hamner expects Southern Season to generate about $450 million in revenue annually.
“We expect each store to do between $25 million and $40 million in sales each year,” he said.
Hamner said Southern Season focuses heavily on local products.
“About 10 to 15 percent of our products are local offerings,” he said. “We work very hard to find small vendors with a unique product but no outlet. And typically, if they do well with us, they can get picked up by other high-end grocers like Whole Foods and stores like that.”
The Richmond store will have 10 departments, including a bakery, restaurant, coffee bar, ice cream bar and cheese shop.