With Whole Foods knocking, Pleasants tries to nail down new home

Photos by Burl Rolett.

Pleasants Hardware’s current space on West Broad Street will soon be recreated as a Whole Foods grocery store. Photos by Burl Rolett.

A mainstay midtown hardware store is hammering out relocation plans as a Whole Foods-anchored Broad Street development begins to take shape around it.

Pleasants Hardware has its eye on a nearby building as it looks to move from its current location at 2024 W. Broad St. to make way for a new Whole Foods slated to open on the site in fall of 2016.

The grocery store would be part of the Sauer Center, a planned four-building retail and office development that would encompass more than 200,000 square feet owned by spice maker C.F. Sauer Co. and its subsidiaries.

Much of Pleasants’ current building will be demolished to make way for the grocery store.

“A third of the new Whole Foods would reuse that building,” said Shane Parr of Sauer Properties. “The parking lot is in the exact same spot, and the store will fit pretty much exactly on the footprint of the existing Pleasants.”

Parr said the current plan is to save the back side of the structure, which includes loading docks facing Marshall Street.

James Hatcher, president of Pleasants Hardware, said he’s considering relocating to a 173,000-square-foot building at 2801 Hermitage Road and Cummings Drive near the Diamond, which currently houses Horizon Forest Products and West End Printing.

But he said the company had not made a final decision.

“We’ve found some areas that we like, but we are still very early in the stage of getting anything finalized,” he said.

Horizon Forest Products, a hardwood flooring company, is giving up its 42,000-square-foot space in the building that includes a Hermitage-facing parking lot.

Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer broker Franklin Bell is handling the search for Horizon’s new home. He said the company has narrowed its search to a shortlist of potential locations but has not finalized anything.

The Hermitage Road building is available for sale or lease, according to a flyer posted on LoopNet. It’s currently owned by Bourne Enterprises, LC, an entity tied to West End Printing.

“Most of that entire building is occupied, the owner is in most of it,” Hatcher said. “So it would depend how much space they could make available to us, and that is one thing we’re talking to them about.”

In addition to the current Horizon space, Hatcher mentioned a couple of other sites that Pleasants had looked at but decided against, including one on Myers Street near the forthcoming Cookie Factory Lofts. Hatcher did not disclose any other specific locations that Pleasants is currently considering. He said Pleasants is looking for between 40,000 and 50,000 square feet and would prefer a location in midtown.

The former Department of Taxation building now owned by Sauer.

Sauer is looking to fill the former Department of Taxation building.

Pleasants moved to its current Broad Street location in 1975. C.F. Sauer bought the hardware chain in 1989.

For additional retail space for the Sauer Center development, Sauer Properties is currently courting tenants to fill the former Virginia Department of Taxation building. The property sits along Broad Street just west of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. Sauer showed the Department of Taxation property to Whole Foods shortly after buying it, but the 133,000-square-foot building was too large for the grocer.

“Our plan was ‘here’s Pleasants, here’s a grocery store, and wouldn’t it be wonderful?’” Parr said. “But I think it got [Whole Foods] interested in looking between the Boulevard and Belvidere, and we had a relationship with their broker from the past. He knows how we operate and knew that we could deliver.”

The Sauer Center will also look to convert a pair of old Sauer-owned warehouses into office buildings along Hermitage Road behind the company’s iconic spice factory. One is a two-story, 28,000-square-foot building at 2000 W. Marshall St. and the other a single-story building at 840 Hermitage Road.

Parr likened the planned office space to a similar Sauer development at the northeast corner of Hermitage and Broad, a 21,000-square-foot building with tenants Dominion Construction Partners and Trent Corp.

Part of the Sauer Center project includes converting two old buildings into offices.

Part of the Sauer Center project includes converting two old buildings into offices.

Sauer Properties plans to own and lease all of the buildings within the Sauer Center development. Lee’s Famous Recipe, whose building Sauer Properties does not own, will continue to operate within the new retail center.

Before any demolition or construction can take place, Parr said there’s plenty of site work to do for the Sauer Center. For starters, Sauer will have to redo the parking lots at the Virginia Department of Taxation and Pleasants properties, add landscaping and begin fixing up the planned office buildings on the Hermitage side.

Parr said he hopes to have an approved plan for the Whole Foods before next summer. It will be June 2015 before any substantial construction will happen at the hardware store’s current site.

“We can’t bother Pleasants while they’re still in business. If they’re out by April, that’s fine,” he said. “That’s a date that helps us get to [Whole Foods’] earliest date opening date in fall 2016.”

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