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VOL. 38 | NO. 5 | Friday, January 31, 2014

More stores, construction extend Murfreesboro’s Avenue

By Hollie Deese

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The Gap, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Soma Intimates are among the new stores opening soon at The Avenue Murfreesboro shopping center.

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New retailers are coming to The Avenue Murfreesboro shopping center months after the $163 million sale of the property by Atlanta-based Cousins Properties and Faison Enterprises to Houston-based Hines Global REIT Inc.

“Cousins divested a good part of their Avenue real estate retail,” says Philip Purdom, a principal with David Hocker and Associates, the leasing representatives for the Rutherford County property. “Hines was in the market looking, and this one came up.”

A Bed, Bath and Beyond store will soon open in a 22,000-square-foot facility, moving from its previous location on Thompson Lane. The Gap is opening in late January with an 8,500-square-foot space after moving from Stones River Mall. Soma Intimates, new to the area, will begin construction with an anticipated spring opening.

“I think it is fair to say we have a restaurant deal we are waiting to finalize the lease on,” Purdom says. “We have some other national branded junior retailers we have sent leases out to, and a lot of these stores will be opening in the fall or first quarter 2015.”

Built in 2007, The Avenue is composed of 10 buildings with more than 750,000 square feet. There are about 100 retailers, including Belk, Haverty’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Purdom puts occupancy at around 90 percent, with more room to grow.

“We have three permissible building areas that are about 20,000 feet each,” he says. The proposed restaurant would go into one of those areas, near Old Navy.

Purdom recently returned from the International Conference of Shopping Centers in New York where he met with about 20 retailers currently not in Murfreesboro. He returned with 10-15 letters of intent.

“We definitely need more junior tenants for the teen-agers and college students,” he says. “We definitely need more restaurants. To me, that is what creates synergy and a sense of neighborhood that makes you come more often. Those are the most critical ones right now.”

According to the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, it is the fifth-largest and second-fastest growing county in the state.

A 2014 Claritas estimate puts the population for Rutherford County at 282,183, with a 2019 estimate of 303,410. Population growth from 2000-2011 was 47.6 percent.

One of the latest businesses to relocate to the area is Schwan Cosmetics, which announced in November it will consolidate its U.S. operations by building a new facility in Murfreesboro.

The plant will merge Schwan Cosmetics’ Cosmolab facility in Lewisburg with current facility in Piscataway, N.J. The company will invest $38 million in the 170,000-square-foot facility, which will create 250 new jobs over the next five years. Total employment is expected to reach 450 as more than 200 jobs will transfer from the Lewisburg facility.

While retail shopping is still strong, online sales continue to increase. Last week the National Retail Federation reported that holiday retail sales for November and December increased 3.8 percent to $601.8 billion, while online and e-commerce sales grew 9.3 percent to $95.7 billion.

Purdom says he is confident the continued growth of the area as well as a good tenant mix will keep The Avenue successful.

“We think by late fall 2014, early 2015, you’ll see a lot more than there is today, and we expect to be one of the No. 1 shopping centers around Nashville for quite a while.”