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VOL. 11 | NO. 13 | Saturday, March 31, 2018

Stock Market Grocery Spurs Interest In Lakeland’s Lake District Project


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After more than a decade of preparation, The Lake District multiuse development in Lakeland is seeing some concrete progress. In fact, the developer, Los Angeles-based Gilad Development Inc., has signed its first tenant to the location on the southeast corner of the intersection of I-40 and Canada Road.

Jeff Burkhead, owner and CEO of Cash Saver in East Memphis, plans to open a grocery store called The Stock Market in Gilad Development's multimillion-dollar Lake District project in Lakeland. (Memphis News/Houston Cofield)

The Stock Market grocery store will anchor the multimillion-dollar undertaking. Construction is slated to begin in coming months on the site where Old Time Pottery, part of the Lakeland Factory Outlet Mall, stood until it was razed earlier this year.

Design and details are still being hammered out, but the general concept is in place, according to owner Jeff Burkhead, who bought the Cash Saver grocery store at 729 N. White Station Road in Memphis in 2010. Burkhead was employed many years by the old Seessel’s chain and transferred over to Bruno’s when the Birmingham, Alabama-based chain purchased the Seessel’s stores in 1997.

“I have a pretty long history in the grocery business,” said the 57-year-old Burkhead. “I worked for Seessel’s until it was sold to (the Bruno’s chain) and then transferred to Birmingham. I stayed in Birmingham 17 years.”

He eventually became a district manager for Bruno’s before returning to Memphis. Family issues were among his main reasons for returning; his father, who lives in Burkhead’s hometown of Henderson, Tennessee, and who he visits most every weekend, was a prime motivator for the return.

Founded in 1932, Bruno’s closed its last location in 2012. It boasted 300 stores in the southeastern United States during its heyday.

Burkhead is not predicting building such a grocery empire but is looking to The Stock Market to be a great start for something good. For one thing, Lakeland is a growing community that has only two other grocery stores, Sprouts Farmers Market and a Kroger location. (Lakeland’s population in 2000 was 7,228; its estimated population in 2016 was 12,494.)

“I believe a grocery store will definitely be a draw,” Burkhead said of the project.

The Lake District is planned to be a sprawling, 160-acre development that includes a commercial district of about 30 acres, which includes parking areas.

Residences ranging from manor homes to town homes and assisted living also are planned. Several lakes circled by walking paths, paddle boat activities and footbridges are planned for the center of the development, as well as restaurants, shops, a performing arts center, two hotels and a farmers market in the northern portion.

While the nuts and bolts of The Stock Market are still being worked out, Burkhead said some amenities will definitely be included in the store.

“I have had a desire for this a long time,” he said. “It is a project I’ve actually worked with other groups on. It is going to be a store unlike anything in Memphis.”

Christy Fitzwater with Trustmark Bank and Brittney Buchanan with the Lakeland Chamber helped pass out Lake District and Stock Market merchandise to curious citizens during a sneak peek held by Lake District developer Yehuda Netanel of Gilad Development on Saturday, March 24. (Memphis News/Patrick Lantrip)

The Stock Market will comprise about 35,000 square feet and employ 75 to 100 workers. According to Burkhead, it will offer all the usual products and services, with some attractive, innovative inclusions.

“Extraordinary customer service” will be one of them, Burkhead said. The usual includes produce, meat, delicatessen and bakery. The deli will have specialty meats and cheeses, while the bakery will offer a “variety of cakes, pastries and breads,” all prepared and baked onsite.

Besides a “traditional” meat section, where precut and packaged meats will be available, butchers will be on hand to provide specialty cuts according to customers’ wishes. Fresh and frozen seafood also will be part of the mix.

Burkhead said he doesn’t anticipate making The Stock Market a 24-hour operation.

“This level of customer service has not been seen since the Seessel’s days,” Yehuda Netanel, president of Gilad Development, said of The Stock Market.

Netanel bought the initial 30 acres, where the old mall was located, 13 years ago and has been putting the deal together since then. It has been through some turbulent times, sometimes drawing the ire of Lakeland officials impatient with a seeming lack of progress, but now seems to be on track to become a reality.

Netanel estimates the entire project will run around $300 million. Demolition of the old mall was completed in late February; dirt moving – an estimated half-million cubic yards or more – has begun but will ramp up this summer after spring rains have abated. Netanel and Burkhead expect The Stock Market to open in the fall of 2019.

“Grocery stores are great anchors,” Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker said of The Stock Market signing onto The Lake District. “People have to go to grocery stores to eat.”

Bunker said he has seen “an increase in interest” in the project in the last couple months, with both potential business investors and homebuyers contacting City Hall about The Lake District’s opportunities.

He said Lakeland and Tennessee secured a $35 million tax increment financing package to assist with the project; projected sales and property tax revenues of about $4 million per year will go to retire that debt.

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