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TROUTMAN, NC-A couple of brokers from Cornelius, NC, and their investor partners have scooped up 68 acres at a key Interstate interchange here that they expect will be combined with an adjoining 52-acre parcel and developed into the city’s largest power center. The land is located 40 miles north of Charlotte at the intersection of Interstate 77 and State Highway 21; the combined properties could hold between 700,000 sf and one million sf of retail space.

The new owners, at a cost of $3 million or $1 per sf, are Sperry Van Ness brokers Tom McMahon and Bill Hartwell of Cornelius, and undisclosed money partners. Hartwell tells GlobeSt.com their LLC plans to hold the property for at least a year and a day to qualify it as an investment and then entertain offers from developers.

“We know we are in an area of real high population growth and we also know where the trends are, and this is one of the last freeway exits that was available,” Hartwell says. “We’re only in the talking stage with the people next door.”

The deal was a year in the making. “I just threw an LOI on it to see what we could do,” Hartwell says. “The more we got into it the better it got.”

The seller was Chapell Trust of Statesville. Its broker, Bill Balatow of Allen Tate Realtors, tells GlobeSt.com the wooded property has 1,400 feet of frontage on I-77 and 800 on Highway 21 at the interchange. “It’s basically raw land,” he says. “The property is in the county, but the city has said it would annex the land and provide water and sewer.”

Hartwell says it’s fortunate that the city is interested in facilitating the development at this time. “It’s getting to be harder and harder all the time to have a property fully entitled for what you envision,” he says. “At this point, we should be able to get entitlements; a couple of years down the road, [Troutman] will be like all other little towns and probably won’t be chasing them anymore.”

About 60 of the 68.5 acres Hartwell and company acquired is useable. A power line easement soaks up about nine acres, but Hartwell says his understanding is that detention ponds and parking could sit beneath the lines. It’s likely both property owners will work together to master plan the properties and mix together the big boxes, out-parcels and small shop space, he says.

“Where every developer makes their money is out-parcels and strip retail, so you don’t want just big boxes on your property,” Hartwell says. “It’s in everyone’s interest to work together.”

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