Wal-Mart nearing lease agreement for existing store   

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  The current Elizabethton Wal-Mart store will soon give way to a supercenter development.
  However, the store's soon-to-be vacant building is not expected to be vacant long if the company's real estate division finalizes a lease to bring another retailer into the current 104,000-square-foot building.
  A representative of the Wal-Mart Stores Realty Division said Tuesday the company had a pending deal to lease the Wal-Mart located at 791W. Elk Ave. The deal would prevent leaving another vacant building in the city and possibly create dozens of additional jobs for the local economy.
  "We are very close to making an announcement," said Cindy Morse, of Wal-Mart Realty in Bentonville, Ark. "It is a retail user."
  Morse declined to name the retailer saying the lease had not been fully executed.
  Wal-Mart Realty markets available properties through a network of real estate developers, brokers and economic development organizations. Former Wal-Mart buildings have been converted into call centers, offices, distribution and light manufacturing operations. Cingular Wireless operates a Johnson City call center at the former Wal-Mart store on North Roan Street.
  The existing Wal-Mart store opened in 1988 and employs more than 100 workers. Employees of the current Wal-Mart store are readying to move lock, stock, and barrel later this year to the new supercenter store currently under construction on West Elk Avenue.
   Wal-Mart Realty presently markets 23 buildings for lease or option to buy across Tennessee. Store buildings open for lease around the region include former stores in the Stonegate Center in Kingsport, on U.S. Highway 11E in Greeneville, and a building on Virginia State Route 640 in Norton, Va.
  Wal-Mart Realty lease space is available in vacated buildings ranging in size from less than 10,000 square feet to more than 100,000 square feet. Over the course of the last five years, the division reports leasing or selling over 50 million square feet of building space.