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New Lowe's will be twice as big

August 12, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Lowe's hardware store on Winchester Avenue is only about five years old, but the hardware giant is planning to close it and open a Lowe's Home Improvement Center twice its size by next summer.

"They must be happy in Martinsburg," said James Cochrane, the president of Resource Consultants & Developers Inc. of Parkersburg, W.Va. He said his firm is developing the project in a joint venture with T&F Properties of Aiken, S.C.

The store will be on 27 acres on Route 45 at the South Queen Street interchange and would have 600 parking spaces. Last month, RCDI submitted a sketch plat for the project. Cochrane said a preliminary plat with all the required civil engineering plans, such as stormwater management, will be submitted to the Berkeley County Planning Commission next month.

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Cochrane said after meeting with the planning commission Monday night that the home improvement store will be a replacement of the existing store, which he said is about 78,000 square feet. Lowe's leases the Winchester Avenue store from RCDI and "we've informed them of potential tenants that are interested in the site," he said.

He said Lowe's would be able to sublease the Winchester Avenue location and "There's a lot of interest in Martinsburg."

Cochrane said he plans to exercise his options on the properties by October, with construction beginning as early as November.

According to Cochrane, there are six properties involved and he's had options on them for more than 18 months.

Lowe's is the second major retailer to look at the location. Cochrane said he had been negotiating with Wal-Mart to build a store there and had been ready to purchase the land earlier this year when Wal-Mart decided to remain at the Martinsburg Mall.

"Their existing landlord offered them good incentives" to stay at the mall, Cochrane said. Wal-Mart is now expanding at the mall. He noted that Wal-Mart leaving that location would have been "devastating to the mall."

If the preliminary plat is approved at a public hearing, Cochrane said his joint venture with T&F Properties would close the deal on the land, "get our building permits and begin construction." The home improvement center, he said, could open in July 1998 depending on how construction goes this winter.

He said he could not comment on how much the project would cost, or how many people it would employ. He said those details would have to come from Lowe's.

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