Wal-Mart shopping for tenants for 'old' store

By Thomas Wilson

   Shoppers still fill the aisles of Elizabethton's existing Wal-Mart store.
   In a few months, the store will be moving lock, stock and barrel to a new Wal-Mart Supercenter location on West Elk Avenue, not too far up from the current location. While the supercenter is expected to be open by late summer, the Wal-Mart's Realty division is working to avoid leaving Elizabethton straddled with another empty building.
   The company's real estate group, which markets vacated Wal-Mart stores for use to other businesses, is already shopping the 104,581-square foot Wal-Mart store for prospective tenants. The property is expected to be available by August.
   "We are nationally marketing (the property)," said Cindy Morse, real estate manager with the four-state Southeast Division of Wal-Mart Realty. "I feel like we will have something popping on it fairly soon. We have some time until our opening."
   Wal-Mart stores have been converted into telemarketing call centers for firms including MCI and Convergys, private schools in Arkansas, Wyoming and Mississippi, a Mercedes-Benz auto dealership and a hospital, according to the Wal-Mart Realty Web site. The Wal-Mart store on North Roan Street in Johnson City was converted into a call center after the super center store opened on Browns Mill Road.
   The existing Wal-Mart store on West Elk Avenue stands on 10.41 acres with 452 parking spaces available, according to the company's realty Web site.
   Dick Sammer, of Vision Real Estate in Nashville, said Friday the Elizabethton site was being marketed by his firm via Wal-Mart. "We are in the process of advertising the availability of this building to a number of prospects," Sammer said.
   These vacated buildings are also available for purchase. Vacated Wal-Mart buildings typically drew second-generation users. "Most buildings are demised to accommodate smaller space," Sammer said. Vision Real Estate tenants and leased clients include Wal-Mart, AT&T Wireless and Suncom among several other retailers.
   The company markets leased space in vacated buildings ranging in size from less than 10,000 square feet to more than 100,000 square feet. Wal-Mart's realty company is also looking to lease an empty 103,000-square-foot store at Stonegate Shopping Plaza on West Stone Drive in Kingsport.
   The company's realty division also leases land adjacent to super centers, Wal-Mart stores and SAM's Clubs, most often to restaurants, retail, office or development uses. The Wal-Mart In-Store Leasing Program provides local, regional and national businesses the opportunity to lease space in the front of operating Wal-Mart stores and super centers. In-store leasing offers space inside Wal-Mart Supercenter locations of between 450-1,000 square feet for retail, banking, food service, or other types of businesses.