Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Winn-Dixie Store Lease Sells for $725,000; Bidding War Erupts as Two Parties Vie for Control of Rural Georgia Shopping Spot

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Winn-Dixie Store Lease Sells for $725,000; Bidding War Erupts as Two Parties Vie for Control of Rural Georgia Shopping Spot

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BASCH

McRae, Ga., only has about 2,700 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. But those people are important shoppers, at least to two parties who competed Friday in a Jacksonville courtroom for the right to control a supermarket in that South-Central Georgia town.

A bidding war emerged in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville over the right to control the site of a Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. supermarket that had operated in McRae since 1971. On one side was Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distribution Co., which hoped to put one of its supermarkets, run by an independent operator, in the site. On the other side was the owner of the shopping center, ALS Telfair-Perlis, which is hoping to fill the former Winn-Dixie space with a more prominent supermarket chain.

At the end of the back-and-forth bidding process that started at $440,000, the landlord won the right to control the property with a winning bid of $725,000.

Friday's hearing was held to consider bids to take over leases on certain store locations that Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie is closing as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerry Funk approved lease transfers on eight store locations without objections. But the McRae site became a battlefield.

Piggly Wiggly Distribution, a grocery wholesale operation that distributes products to independent owners who operate supermarkets under the Piggly Wiggly name, had agreed to pay $400,000 for the lease. Jerry McCann, vice president in charge of retail operations for the company, testified in court that Piggly Wiggly already had an operator lined up to take over the site. And he expressed confidence that it would be a well-run store.

"We do a very good job of tailoring a grocery store for the communities we're in," McCann said.

But Larry Perlis, who runs ALS Telfair-Perlis, expressed concern that an independent grocery store operator might discourage other retail tenants from keeping their stores in the shopping center. …

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