Planning board sends forward two requests

May. 06, 2013 @ 07:01 PM

Dish Network Corp., owner of the Blockbuster Video chain, is selling 27 Blockbuster owned properties in North Carolina, including the Henderson location, as part of a year-long strategy to close 300 Blockbuster stores in 2013.

Purchasing the 27 locations in North Carolina is Charlotte-based Crosland Southeast, and Crosland partner J. Austin Williams of Raleigh came to Henderson on Monday to get the 903 South Beckford Drive Blockbuster property rezoned for retail uses in anticipation of finalizing the deal.

Also, Vance County leaders received a nod from Henderson planners to rezone five acres where they anticipate a new animal shelter will be located.

Williams said there is no announced plan for Blockbuster to close its Henderson location, but selling the property in order to become a lessee there would make closing easier.

“Our intent here is to operate as a quality realtor leasing to top retailers,” Williams said. “As you know, Blockbuster stores across the country are closing. Our only intent today is to rezone in conformity with retail use.”

Henderson Planning Board members agreed with Williams on the zoning change. They noted the industrial use zoning designation for the lot is an old oversight error. Blockbuster has been retailing there for more than a decade.

The commission recommendation to rezone the lot will go to the Henderson City Council for approval.

Williams said Crosland operates on a high-quality business model that includes building structure assessments and renovations. He added the prominent location on the corner of Beckford and Dabney drives would be a draw for a broad range of retailers, from restaurants to medical supply dealers.

For the time being, Blockbuster would remain as a tenant at the location.

Plans announced in January for 2013 were to close about 300 Blockbuster stores across the country, impacting about 3,000 employees. That was a follow-up to closing 500 Blockbuster locations in 2012.

There should be about 500 locations left by year’s end, selected for their superior sales performance. Dish Network purchased the bankrupt Blockbuster video rental chain for $320 million in March 2011.

A five-acre lot off Brodie Road across from 300 farming acres is where Vance County Animal Control is planning to operate. County leaders want zoning to reflect the agricultural character included with running the new shelter.

County Attorney Jonathan Care said that the use by the government of Vance would coincide with how land is being used in the area, changing the lot from residential to “RA,” a mixed residential and agricultural designation.

“It is a suitable fit,” Care said.

Jordan McMillen, director of the county planning department, said the zoning designation for residential and agricultural use would change the rules to low-density development, increasing setback and easement requirements that preserve the area’s openness.

“We see it as a natural progression out from the city,” McMillen said. “Our plan is to put the animal shelter there in the future.”

McMillen said development of the shelter is still in the planning stages. The current shelter would close as all animal control operations would move to the new location.

The approval by the Henderson planning board sends the matter to the city council for a final decision.


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