The makeover of the Brassfield Shopping Center — more than three years in — will soon feature the reopening of the campus’ 10-screen theater and a new-to-North Carolina outlet concept from Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Also on their way is the third Triad location of The Habit Burger chain out of California, along with a Trek cycling store and an Indigo Art Studio.
Golden Ticket Cinemas Inc., founded in 2016 and based in Durham, plans to reopen the 27,000-square-foot theater by early summer.
Meanwhile, Lowe’s is occupying the former 36,000-square-foot SteinMart retail space at the shopping center on Battleground Avenue.
Steen Spove, a partner with shopping center owner and developer Deep River Partners, said the ability to attract the five planned tenants — with more offered letters of intent — places the shopping center closing in on 90% occupancy.
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The latest commitments come down to a matter of timing, Spove said.
That includes Greensboro and Guilford County residents feeling more comfortable out in public during the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the shopping center property benefiting from increased traffic flow from the recently opened Urban Loop.
Having Trader Joe’s as a now-more accessible grocery and destination anchor is a major plus as well, Spove said.
“We have been working on a redevelopment for about 10 years, with securing Trader Joe’s (opening in October 2019) as a catalyst being obviously pivotal to our efforts, drawing a lot more interest from other groups,” Spove said.
Trader Joe’s hinted at a Greensboro store in 2014 when it was rumored the grocer had expressed interest in opening within a proposed retail development on Hobbs Road at West Friendly Avenue near Friendly Center.
However, Trader Joe’s interest in the site allegedly waned after residents near the property protested the proposed development.
It took about another five years for the timing to work with the Brassfield retail store availability drawing Trader Joe’s interest, then commitment.
About the time Trader Joe’s began to generate a buzz the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic began to be felt in mid-March 2020.
“COVID basically stopped everything for two years,” Spove said. “That was a rough spot. We lost SteinMart and Cinemark during the period.”
“Another big factor was the opening of the Greensboro Urban Loop.
“It was essential to getting Trader Joe’s because they look at their stores from a regional perspective, and the shopping center has become very easily accessible now.”
Lowe’s outlet concept
The Lowe’s Outlet concept debuted in California in 2019 and offers discounted Lowe’s-branded merchandise, primarily scratch-and-dent appliances and out-of-season goods.
Lowe’s has fewer than 10 such outlet stores nationwide. The outlets are not separately listed on Lowe’s website.
According to the website of the Westchester, Fla., outlet store, Lowe’s scratch-and-dent offerings including dryers, freezers, grills, microwaves, patio furniture, refrigerators, stove and washers.
Price discounts appear to be 25% to 70% off original retail price. “Lowe’s Outlet items are sold in store only and aren’t available online,” according to the website.
Lowe’s corporate communications representative Maddie Gardner declined to provide specific details about the Brassfield store.
“We are excited to share the details of upcoming projects with you soon,” Gardner said.
Spove said a real-estate broker representing the home-improvement chain contacted Deep River.
“At that time, we had not heard about that concept,” he said. “But that turned out to be a growth (opportunity) related to COVID as supply chains made it difficult to get products.
“Lowe’s figured out ‘why not open our own outlets,’ and so they have about nine now and this will be its first in North Carolina.”
Spove said Deep River has been courting Golden Ticket since Cinemark closed its Brassfield theater in April 2020 as part of permanently shuttering seven N.C. locations.
Negotiations began in earnest in March 2022 even as Deep River was considering other options for the tract, such as office, medical “or tearing it down to do something else with outparcels,” Spove said.
“A theater was still the highest and best use of the property,” Spove said.
The Brassfield theater will be Golden Ticket’s third in North Carolina, counting locations in Lenoir and little Washington, as well as the company’s 19th theater across 12 states.
The company said its focus is providing small- to mid-size markets with “new amenities to hometown America that you usually would only find in larger markets.”
“Obviously, it has been a challenging couple of years for our industry, but the future is bright for movie exhibition,” John Bloemeke, Golden Ticket’s president, said in a statement.
“We are happy that the tradition of going to the movies will be kept alive and well in this amazing facility for years to come.”
Joe Horton, the company’s marketing officer, said the chain will offer not only Hollywood blockbusters, but also independent films and occasional rescreening of popular movies from previous decades “so that younger moviegoers can experience them in a theater setting rather than their TV screen.”
Bloemeke said the Brassfield theater will provide luxury heated recliners, immersive picture and sound and expanded food and beverage offerings.
“Cosmetically, the theatre will be unrecognizable compared to what you might remember,” Bloemeke said. “We have a lot of other amenities that are excited to announce over the coming months.
“We are confident our pricing will be very competitive, and we have some popular programs that will encourage many return visits.”
For information about purchasing tickets, employment and other items, go to www.gtcinemas.com.
Spove said Habit real-estate officials reached out to Deep River as part of a national expansion push for the California chain, which has Triad locations in Burlington and Clemmons.
“They are trying to find as many locations as possible and came to us about taking the former Chick-fil-A site,” he said.
Spove said Chick-fil-A left for a larger location across the street in large part because the Brassfield location had become too small to accommodate customer demand and traffic flow.
“We had a number of folks interested in the site, and (Habit) was very quick to reach a deal because they are quick to jump on new and renovated shopping centers,” Spove said. “That’s why they followed Publix to Clemmons and Burlington.
“These guys would love to be on Battleground, Stratford Road, Hanes Mall Boulevard, but there’s just not much, if any, room for them there.”
Spove said the redevelopment of Brassfield is another sign that in-person retail “certainly is not dead” in Greensboro and the Triad.
Current tenants include Gold’s Gym with the largest space at 55,000 square feet. Other tenants include FedEx, Piedmont Advantage Credit Union and Original Mattress Factory, while Biscuitville is on an outparcel.
“There will always be a need for brick-and-mortar retail, with the momentum shifting back even with Amazon here so prominently,” Spove said.
Spove cited the Trek cycling store as an example, particularly given the 7,950-square-foot store’s proximity to the parks and the greenway.
Crumbl Cookies and XO Nail Lounge recently opened in 1,980-square-foot spaces.
“We’ve had some tenants, smaller entrepreneurs, who have hung in there through COVID and are now experiencing a resurgence,” Spove said.
Having said that, Spove acknowledged that winners and losers will come down to “best located centers, and that’s one of the reasoning we got involved with Brassfield so early.”
“It is incredibly well located with a long history. The loop makes it just that much more accessible and attractive.”
Spove said that “if you’ve got the right retail concepts, you’re going to be successful.”