Home Depot is still trying to unload a 12-acre tract in Waynesville after sidelining plans for its first store west of Asheville a year and a half ago due to the economy.
Home Depot had been asking $4 million for the site in Waynesville Commons, a new mega-shopping complex anchored by Super Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
“They have been trying to market it, but the overall economy is still slow,” said Mark Clasby, Haywood County’s economic development director. “It has been a challenging market to say the least.”
In the meantime, however, Home Depot has purchased the very tract it hopes to sell rather than continue to lease it from the developer of Waynesville Commons.
Home Depot signed a 20-year lease on the tract with Cedarwood Development in November 2007 with an option to buy. Home Depot killed its plans for the Haywood County store a year later and began its effort to sell the site and get out of its lease.
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on the option to buy. If it expired, Home Depot would still be stuck in the lease and lose what it had already paid toward the site. Under the purchase option, lease payments counted toward the eventual purchase price.
To buy the tract, Home Depot forked over another $1.87 million. How much more Home Depot had already invested through two-and-a-half years of lease payments is not known since but the terms of the lease are not part of the public record available through the Register of Deeds office.
While Home Depot continues the hunt for a buyer, a local developer is plugging away on plans for a collection of retail stores on a six-acre tract in Waynesville Commons fronting South Main Street.
Brian Noland, a Waynesville developer and Realtor, has finalized plans for a retail complex sporting six storefronts. Noland said he has already lined up tenants, mostly national franchises, interested in the spots. But he has had trouble with financing.
Before issuing a construction loan, banks want evidence that a developer has a sure stream of revenue to pay it back.
Noland has letters of intent from retail chains wanting to lease the space, which typically satisfies banks.
But “not nowadays,” Noland said. Banks’ unwillingness to lend has been blamed nationally for prolonging the recession, and Noland would agree.
“It has blocked the recovery in a lot of ways,” Noland said.
He paid $600,000 for the two-acre tract fronting South Main in late 2009. He has finished blueprints that pass muster with the town’s appearance and design standards and has his building permit in hand.
“I have a ton of money in it so far, so I am not going to stop now. It is just a lot slower pace,” Noland said. “It has been a lot of extra hoops to jump through.”
Meanwhile, the Waynesville ABC store plans to build a new retail location on another available site in the Waynesville Commons shopping complex.
But the massive size of Home Depot’s site makes it far more challenging to market.