HUNTINGTON — Approximately 42,000 square feet of the former Kmart building in the Pea Ridge Plaza in Huntington near Barboursville is being renovated for a new Big Lots store, according to the developer.

Nashville-based real estate investment firm Anchor Investments LLC confirmed the work going on at the old Kmart on the property at 5636 U.S. 60 East is for a Big Lots store that could open around May.

According to an official with Big Lots, the store in the Eastern Heights Shopping Center along U.S. 60 will be moving to the new location. There used to be a Big Lots location in the Westland Plaza on 14th Street West in Huntington, but it moved to South Point, Ohio, in October 2017 into a 27,248-square-foot building that also formerly housed a Kmart store.

"This is part of an estimated $3 million in renovations planned for the shopping center," said Micah Lacher, president of Anchor Investments. "There will be 45,000 square feet of available space for one large tenant or it can be split up for more than one tenant. We also have two smaller suites that are 2,000 square feet each at the plaza."

The company announced its purchase of the 150,000-square-foot Pea Ridge Plaza shopping center on June 29 last year.

"This property fits very well into our strategy of buying well-located real estate with a value-add component," Lacher said. "We were attracted to this center due to its high traffic counts and superior visibility in the market."

Currently there are 12 existing businesses in the shopping center. They are Tequila Grill Mexican Cuisine, H&R Block, Mimi's, Dollar Tree, WV Business Products, China House, T&C Nails and Spa, CrossFit, The Fundraising Group, Al's New York Pizza, Huntington School of Beauty Culture and King Spirits.

"We look forward to partnering with the existing tenants to bring more traffic to the center and improve the overall appearance," he said.

The shopping center was anchored by the former Kmart.

"We have revitalized vacant Kmart centers in several states and look forward to restoring this center to its former glory," Lacher said.

Renovations and general improvements planned for the site in the coming weeks include a new monument sign, also known as a plaza sign.

"We will be using the infrastructure of the old sign, but everything else will be brand new," Lacher said.

Lacher said Pea Ridge Plaza has been a retail staple in the community since it was developed.

"The location within the market is amazing, and the response from tenants has proven such," Lacher said.

The local leasing agent is Brody Nash with Century 21, according to Lacher.

"Any potential tenants with an interest in available space at the plaza can call Brody Nash with Century 21 at 304-736-6655," Lacher said. "Our goal is to find local, regional and national tenants."

Anchor continues to be actively involved throughout the Southeast, Midwest and East and continues to look for strategic acquisition opportunities, according to Lacher.

One of Anchor's success stories is the Forks of the River Shopping Center in Sevierville, Tennessee.

"Forks of the River Shopping Center has been a retail staple in the Sevierville, Tennessee, community for over 30 years," Lacher said. "Originally developed for Kmart and Kroger, this 127,000-square-feet center declined over the years due to an under-capitalized ownership group. When it was purchased by Anchor in 2015, the occupancy was 75 percent and the only anchor tenant remaining was Kmart. After an extensive renovation, we have now entered into long-term leases with Big Lots and Harbor Freight, who have breathed new life into the center. The center is once again vibrant, and tenants have reported drastic sales increases."

Since its founding in 2009, Anchor has been the principal on over $250 million of real estate projects, Lacher said.

For more information about Anchor Investments LLC, visit the company's website at www.anchorinv.com.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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