William Peace University announced Tuesday that it is selling a portion of the neighboring Seaboard Station property for commercial and residential development, which will still include a full-size Harris-Teeter supermarket.
The announcement kicks off a marketing campaign to sell the property to a buyer who can produce the kind of project that fits in with the rapidly developing area north of downtown.
"The University considers this process to be about selection of the ‘best bid,’ not the ‘highest bid,'" Billie Redmond, president and CEO of TradeMark Properties, and Marcus Jackson, managing director of Urban Investments, said in a joint statement. They are representing the university in the sale.
"The University remains invested and committed to the tenants, neighbors and community, and will carefully evaluate all offers to ensure the right fit is selected for the future of Seaboard," they said.
Harris-Teeter has been a long-anticipated grocery store for Seaboard Station. But delayed construction and the announcement of a Publix grocery store in a nearby development at Peace and West streets raised questions about Harris-Teeter's plans.
Harris-Teeter remains committed to Seaboard, TradeMark says, and delayed its opening to take into account future development of the property. TradeMark says it will help the grocery chain's discussions with potential new owners.
The university bought the Seaboard property in 2013 as an investment. Proceeds from the sale will go into an endowment and pay for facilities and programs for students, according to a statement by Peace President Brian Ralph.
"Seaboard Station is an incredible amenity for our community," Ralph said. "Many of us frequent the restaurants and shops, and those same establishments offer employment opportunities for our students as well as partnerships with the University. We also know that it is an attractive amenity to recruit and retain outstanding students as well as host alumni events. We have a vested interest in seeing the retail center continue to grow and thrive."
Peace has been working on long-range plans to accommodate anticipated student growth on its 19-acre campus. On-campus halls are filled up, and the university has some students living off campus in university-leased housing. There had been consideration for building approximately 300 beds as part of a mixed-used development in Seaboard Station.
The university is selling three retail buildings and the adjacent parking not. It will retain three parcels that are adjacent to the shopping center: where Sunflowers is located, a small building on Halifax Street and a rear parking area.
Peace doesn't own everything at Seaboard. Logan's Garden Shop and Cafe, and a strip of nearby buildings are not part of the Peace property. In all, Peace will be selling 5.68 acres.
TradeMark said it was not publicly disclosing its anticipated sales price at this time.