What’s next for the Outer Banks’ soon-to-be vacant Kmart space?

Signs on the doors at the Kill Devil Hills’ Kmart announce “Inventory Blow Out” and “No New Layaways.” [Kari Pugh photo]

Target, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Lidl, a community center, affordable housing?

Outer Banks’ locals have a long wish list for the space in Kill Devil Hills soon to be vacated by Kmart. But if the owners of the property or the building have plans for 1901 N. Croatan Highway, they haven’t made them known.

Kill Devil Hills Mayor Ben Sproul recently said town commissioners have had no news about the property, but he believes that will change.

“I expect there’s a whole bunch of engineers looking at the highest and best use of that property,” Sproul said.

Kmart owns the 111,000-square-foot building and, since opening in 1992, has leased the 14-acre plot of land facing U.S. 158 from the Wright Company Inc., according to real estate records.

Norfolk real estate mogul Joan Dalis, who died in February 2019, is listed as the president of the Wright Co. Inc., with Norfolk attorney William Nusbaum as assistant secretary.

Joan Dalis may be best known for her investments in Ward’s Corner, a Norfolk shopping center her second husband, dentist Alexander Martone, built at the northeast corner of the shopping district in 1947. Dalis renovated the shopping center’s exterior to make it more modern and attractive, her obituary reads.

When asked for comment on who now owns and manages the Outer Banks Kmart property, and what any future plans might be, Nusbaum said “Unfortunately, I was unable to get a comment from the owner for your article.”

Transformco, which acquired Sears and Kmart out of bankruptcy, declined to comment on the future of the building, only confirming that the store will close in April.

In the last 15 years, Sears and Kmart have shuttered more than 3,500 stores and cut about 250,000 jobs. A variety of retailers have replaced Kmart, everything from sporting goods stores to large chain restaurants.

In Raleigh, where that region’s last Kmart closed last month, Target has announced it will open a new 114,000-square-store on the property. In Miami in 2017, Aldi opened a store on property formerly occupied by a Kmart, according to a study by commercial property management company JLL.

Home Goods, at home, Floor & Décor, Raymour & Flanigan and Orchard Supply have all opened locations in Sears or Kmart space across the U.S. In addition, restaurants like BJ’s Brewhouse, Yard House and Shake Shack have all signed leases for former Kmart stores.

JLL’s study also shows vacant Sears and Kmart stores have had strong interest from retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Burlington.

Speculation will undoubtedly continue, but for now the future for North Carolina’s last standing Kmart remains unknown. Stay tuned.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.

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