CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Developers plan a 55,000-square-foot Publix Supermarket and additional space for shops and restaurants in South End, a nod to the growing power of the neighborhoods sprouting along the Lynx Blue line.
The project at South Boulevard and Iverson Way, to be called Shops at South Line, will have two levels of sub-surface parking in addition to surface parking, plus 8,500 square feet for other businesses, developers told the Observer on Thursday. Work is expected to start in the spring.
The store will be Publix’s second in Charlotte, and signifies how serious the upscale grocer is about competing head-to-head with Harris Teeter, the Charlotte area’s dominant grocer. The closest Harris Teeter is less than 1.5 miles away on East Boulevard.
Multifamily developers have flocked to the light rail area during the past year, buying up land and announcing thousands of new apartment units.
Developers chose the South End site, the location of the former Lida Manufacturing textile plant, because “it represents a strong and growing demographic,” said Daniel Levine with Levine Properties, which along with Florida-based Stiles, is developing the store. Levine said the South End store will be among Publix’s largest.
The project illustrates a growing trend of how services once traditionally based in the suburbs are migrating closer to uptown.
The grocery store will be across the street from a Lowe’s home improvement store that opened in 2008. Less than three miles away, a Target has a store across from the Metropolitan mixed-use project.
When Florida-based Publix announced its first Charlotte store this year, the grocer said it planned to expand further in the state. More recently, Charlotte-based Levine Properties and Stiles announced they’d formed a joint venture to develop projects locally. Stiles has developed stores for Publix.
“With our partnership with Daniel Levine and Levine Properties, as well as our long-standing relationship with Publix, we look forward to building our second project in North Carolina, as well as additional projects as the grocery giant continues its expansion in the region,” said Robert Breslau, president of real estate investment for Stiles.
The first store, at Providence Road West and Johnston Road in Ballantyne, is expected to open in 2014. The Ballantyne store is expected to anchor a shopping center that includes a Walgreens and a future Fifth Third bank. In October, Publix opened two stores in South Carolina near the N.C. state line.
Supermarket experts said Publix is viewed as a tough competitor, one that has largely succeeded in beating other grocers when they go head to head.
Competition from Publix, experts say, contributed to Food Lion’s recent decision to close all of its Florida stores and to Winn-Dixie’s bankruptcy.
Publix is expected to compete for the same middle and upper-middle class customers as Harris Teeter, making Publix the biggest emerging competitor for the Matthews-based company, experts said. Founded in Charlotte, Harris Teeter has more than 50 stores and 7,000 employees in the region. Harris Teeter wasn’t available for immediate comment.
“North Carolina is the No. 1-requested state for us to enter,” Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous has said.
Publix, founded in Florida in 1930, spent more than six decades growing in its home state. The privately held, employee-owned supermarket chain didn’t open its first store outside the state, in Savannah, Ga., until 1991.
While there are now more than 300 Publix stores outside of Florida, the majority, 752, of the chain’s stores are still located there. The company’s northernmost distribution center is in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Harris Teeter and Publix compete directly in some places, such as Charleston and Nashville. Harris Teeter said it competes successfully with Publix in those markets.
Competition from Publix, as well as Kroger, however, contributed to pushing Harris Teeter out of Atlanta after the Matthews retailer attempted to break into that market in 1993, according to media accounts.
Matthew Para owns the Liberty and is a member of the South End Advisory Board.
"They took some surveys to find out what everyone wanted and the number one thing was a grocery store," Para said. "Regardless of what neighborhood you live in, you take that for granted. There’s plenty of bedrooms here, but there wasn’t a neighborhood grocery store.”