Downtown retail: Beyu Caffe to Snow Bldg., whiskey bar nearly done, Garden Salon to Erwin Rd., Tire King moves
BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for May 26, 2009

Gleen School Rd. Wal-Mart SuperCenter opens June 17; Roxboro Rd. W-M "soon to be vacant"

At one new Wal-Mart, there are signs proclaiming a forthcoming grand opening, just past the middle of June.

At another, older store, all signs point to closure, and a large hole looming inside an aging shopping center.

First, the new store: the Wal-Mart SuperCenter under construction off of I-85 at Glenn School Road now has an opening date of June 17 listed in signs posted to its door. Hiring for the store continues in an adjacent retail pad within the newly-constructed strip center.

On the flip side, the closure of the Roxboro Rd. Wal-Mart is apparently a done deal, as has been hinted at for a while (including comments on the last post we had on the subject, in which Durham blogger Joe noted some signs directing customers to Glenn School Rd.)

If you've been itching for a chance to open a big box retail store where a Wal-Mart used to be, the 120,000 sq. ft. site where Wal-Mart sits today right next to Durham Regional Hospital is on the market for just $2.95 million. From the LoopNet property description:

The Subject is a "big box" retail property currently operated by Walmart until the completion of a larger Supercenter [is] final. Relocation is expected in mid-2009. The property is located at the northeast corner of Roxboro Street (Highway 501) and Old Oxford Road in Durham, North Carolina. This is a high-traffic intersection with an estimated Average Annual Daily Traffic Count of 25,000 vehicles per day....

The property provides a unique opportunity for an investor or end-user to acquire an infill big box property with high barriers to entry adjacent to a regional shopping center and Durham Regional Hospital.

For what it's worth, the Wal-Mart strip center, which has found itself looking rather tired and dated, was only built in 1990. While there are some creative efforts to repurpose these large, windowless spaces -- from courthouses to libraries to go-kart tracks -- the typical meme is for one of these suckers to sit vacant for as long as it takes for the rest of the center to go bust, then to tear the whole darned thing back down and start over again.


Todd P

It's hard to believe that the Oxford Commons s/c once hosted Lowe's, Wal-mart, Brendles, Food Lion, and Eckerd, and now will be left with just Food Lion among those original major tenants.

I hope this big empty void left by Wal-mart will get filled - that's a lot of empty space.


This isn't good news for the surrounding community nor parts of Northern Durham along the Roxboro Rd corridor. I hope that big void can be filled quickly.

Dan S.

I love the idea of an indoor karting track.

Last time I visited, AllSports Grand Prix in Sterling, VA, was doing bang-up business. I can't imagine, that given then proximity of VIR, Orange County SpeedWay and so many NASCAR teams, that weather-independent karting would do badly in this area.


@Todd P - I'm amazed that this shopping center was once home to so many other big retailers besides Wal-Mart.

I'm surprised that this shopping center looks so bad after only 19 years. I sure hope that a new use can be found for the space - may sub-divide it into a few smaller spaces to appeal to a broader base of potential stores. But then, I'm not sure how well that will work - take a look at the old K-Mart on Avondale with a big space still open in the center.

Todd P

I afraid this is going to go the same way as the old K-Mart on Avondale. I wouldn't mind seeing a recreational use like a go-kart track or skating rink, but I wonder if that could pay the bills.

The re-development options that don't involve bulldozing the shopping center are pretty limited:

- Home Depot and Lowe's already have fairly new stores nearby.
- With Food Lion already there, no other grocery chain would be considered.
- Drug stores don't go into shopping centers anymore. They go free standing these days.

Big box chains without North Durham locations include Target, Best Buy, Kohl's, Borders, Dick's, Michael's, BJ's, Sam's Club (a.k.a. Brier Creek) but I am not sure any those would want to move into an old Wal-mart.


I'm afraid that whole area from Northgate up to the North Duke Mall east of Roxboro Road has declined over the last decade or so. Crime has gone up, or at least the perception of crime and decay consistent with the type of demographic change in North-East Durham. One only has to look at the landscape to notice the changes.

It will take a lot more work, including widening Roxboro Road and clearing out some of the old worn out buildings and shopping centers, for that area to change and become more friendly to suburban shoppers. The kinds of businesses that exist right now do not, so don't expect a big-box or grocery chain to put up shop any time soon. A wholesale leveling of these old shopping centers, like the transformation at South Square, would be necessary. Until the demographics change and the neighborhoods start attracting young, upwardly-mobile folks to rebuild and re-invest, the area will remain a dirty worn out section most won't venture into.


I can't let people like Green Lantern get away with erroneous broad statements like "I'm afraid that whole area from Northgate up to the North Duke Mall east of Roxboro Road has declined over the last decade or so. Crime has gone up, or at least the perception of crime and decay". I happen to live in Colonial Village and exactly the opposite has happened. The area has improved, with professionals, artists and gays moving in. Crime is down. Those of us who live there don't like Green Lantern's outdated 1950s vision of wide roads, sprawl and urban renewal. We prefer walkable neighborhoods, local stores that are within walking (not driving) distance, traffic lights to allow pedestrians to cross streets, etc. Widening Roxboro Road (I call it Roxboro freeway because of the high speeds) is insane. That is no longer a road. It is a city street and needs to adjust to city-style traffic regulation. For suburban living there is always Cary.

By the way, I could care less about Walmart. I never shop there because of the devastating effect Walmarts have on local businesses, their anti-union practices and discrimination of female employees.


Well I guess Visconti is seeing a retail revival the rest of us fail to notice....


The "fix" for traffic on N Roxboro St is the long planned, often delayed Alston Avenue Extension. Planned to run from where the currently planned Alston Ave widening will end at Main St/NC98(?) and continuing on a new route under Geer St and I-85, connecting back to Roxboro St at the Old Oxford Highway - right across from Oxford Commons S/C. It's been a dashed line on the map for 20 years or more.

Money for the road was even included in one of the bonds along the way - maybe 1996. In a move that should surprise no one, the City Council decided to spend the money on widening Fayetteville St north of NC54 instead.

I think Green Lantern's lines are kind of mixed up, too. Within that area - the former North Duke Mall has no vacant space despite it's 1970's appearance; Independence Park has added Lowe's, NC Specialty Hospital, Triangle Orthopeadics, and the new Voyager charter school; NC Museum of Life & Science is one of Durham's top tourist attractions; Edison Johnson remains one of Durham's nicest rec centers (and is apparently all North Durham will ever see pool-wise).

Clearly, Roxboro St between Old Oxford and I-85 has seen better days. Despite appearances, there are some gems along that stretch, such as Current's Cafeteria at Roxboro & Murray.

I have worked in this area of North Durham for 13 years, and have never noticed a crime problem any more serious than in the trendier parts of Durham. As a matter of fact, it has been pretty much non-existent.


Roxboro Road does not need to be widened...there is hardly ever a traffic backup there. Its definitely a speedway. And yes, there are lots of interesting little businesses around there..mostly latino. But also interesting developments like the new Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Grill.

Is it kinda shabby looking? yeah, but its also charming in a way. We should certainly look at ways to attract new businesss but also promote small business from within the community.


@ greenlantern. Not quite sure what you mean when you say "until the demographic changes". Please take in mind that an area of town can be successful without it actually having to clone the Southpoint or South Square side of town. Please take in mind that the Roxboro Rd Walmart catered to a very diverse Northern Durham community as far down Roxboro Rd as Northern Durham High School. Go to that shopping center on a weekend and you will notice high amounts of traffic. This traffic's demographics may not be to your liking but that is what makes Durham Different. That area of Durham can take a few face lifts but it is definitely not dead so please don't speak as such. To summarize your approach seems more like gentrification and I don't think thats necessary in this case.


The fact that the Roxboro Road area HASN'T cloned Southpoint or South Square is precisely why Harris Teeter and, according to rumors, Trader Joe's is looking at the Loehmann's Plaza property for a new grocery store. The Roxboro Road area IS shabby looking, crime-ridden, and poorly maintained jumple of ethnic eateries, check-cashing outlets, pawnshops, and storefront churches. The old Walmart shopping plaza is always full of people loitering around and creating an unfriendly atmosphere to most upscale and suburban shoppers, which is why no big box store is ever going to locate there anytime soon.

It may seem charming to some of you folks, but for the vast majority, it's a place to be avoided when there are other local options. Much has to do with perception, I agree, but leaving Roxboro Road in its current pothole-ridden condition, with no turn lanes, and with all the hand-painted latino signage doesn't help matters. Roxboro Road is no more of a speedway than any other major thoroughfare (which it IS by the way). Don't think that just because you moved there that it's supposed to be transformed into your idea of a neighborhood lane for you to jog on the asphalt with your dog and baby stroller (that's what the sidewalks are for). Perhaps a re-do of the road will help with the traffic flow and walkability, while at the same time serve to clean up the seediness of the area and make it more attractive to development. After all, it has to pay for itself. If you're looking to make another 9th street transformation, you have to change the demographics. If you need me to spell it out for you then you obivously don't live there.


@ greenlantern once again I respectfully disagree. Although I do understand your points I think you are way off here. You are using words like "upscale" and "suburban" which tells me you are completely out of touch with this topic. Does an area have to be "upscale" or "suburban" in order to survive. Of course not.

The Roxboro Rd area is a working class neighborhood that thrives regardless of how it looks. Lets cut to the chase it is not a predominantly white area, it is what I'd like to call a colorful is what it is. Mr/Mrs we are talking about Durham, NC; a diverse place not Cary or Chapel Hill. Thats why its so special. It seems as if you have this perceived notion that an area has to either look like "South Square", South Point, "Ninth St" or somewhat Trendy in order for it to survive and that is not true. Much to your disbelief that area has a lot of buying power. The Roxboro Rd. Walmart never suffered from revenue or profit, it suffered because Walmart moved its business model into more of a "Super" direction if you understand what I am saying. Simply put that Walmart, being anchored by smaller stores on both sides did not have any space to upgrade to a "Super Walmart" therefore it had to go.

The loitering can and has been taken care of and as far as it's looks there's nothing a little TLC can't manage. Look, this is a hustling, bustling, small-medium size city. Everyone and everything won't and will not look like South Point but people are still living their lives and are happy as can be.


I LIVE in that neighborhood which GreenLantern says has: "declined over the last decade or so."

On MY street, crime has NOT gone up and my neighbors and I do NOT have the perception of crime and decay around our homes.

We work hard. We shop in our neighborhood. We care for our children and our elders and each other.

I am part of the demographic change. I become the change I seek for my neighborhood. And I LOVE where I live.

People who speak ill of the area between Northgate and Northern High do not know the GREAT people who live and work there.

Enough already!!

Ben Walton

Dang, The new walmart is going to be hood like the old one.

Not a fan of Roxboro Walmart

Roxboro Road Wal-Mart closing? Good riddance!! Perhaps the new one will be cleaner, better staffed and have better customer service.

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