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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Jim Hull: Retail future is promising in Statesboro
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Jim Hull

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• Abel Leon, of El Sombrero, is expanding his 406 Fair Road location to include an outdoor deck, which should seat around 50. He will expand the roof line to cover the deck and the outside will be brick and stucco, which will match the décor of the center.

• Ladybug's Frame Shop, located at 713 S. Main St., has a contract for the sale of its building. Everything in the store is at wholesale pricing until the sale is complete in early October. Owner Celeste Spence will retire and not continue the business in a new location.

• In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month and to celebrate survivorship, cancer survivor Lori Grice will host "Tickled Pink" ... a portrait event. Breast cancer survivors will receive a free 5x7 and Facebook profile image. The free event is Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lori Grice Photography, 34 E. Main St. Call (912) 764-7274 to reserve a spot. Limited space is available.

• Browbaby Salon and Brow Bar, 100 Brampton Ave. Suite 1B (beside Jimmy John's) will host a Brow-A-Thon Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. benefiting Choices of the Heart. The salon will give away $365 in gifts and prices. Contact Davita Foster at (912) 681-1919 or www.mybcosmetics.com.

• Farmers Market vendor of the week: Simply Sweet bakery, specializing in decorative cookies, cupcakes and cakes

 

The owners of the Statesboro Mall and three Statesboro shopping centers, Jim Hull and Barry Storey, have announced the formation of two new entities, Hull Property Group and BLS Holdings Group LL, with the goal of allowing each individual the opportunity to pursue specialized interests.

Hull and Storey co-founded Hull/Storey Development LLC, currently operating as Hull Storey Gibson Companies, in 1992 and have been actively involved in the acquisition, development and operation of retail properties across the Southeast. Moving forward, Hull Property Group will focus on middle market mall ownership and operations, and BLS Holdings Group LLC will focus on non-mall retail assets and alternative investments.

While the name Hull Storey Gibson Companies will no longer exist, the core function of managing mall operations and acquiring mall properties will remain the focus of Hull Property Group, and the company will continue to operate with all 119 Hull Storey Gibson employees. The changes won't have an impact on the management of the malls, as the same team will continue to manage the mall properties, just under a different name.

  With the retirement of John Gibson last year and Barry Storey now focusing on non-mall properties, they made the decision to change the company name to better reflect the current company operations.

Hull acquired the Statesboro Mall in the late '80s, along with Bert Storey (Barry's father) and Mason McKnight, the original owner/builder and a great friend of Hull. Today, it is still owned by Hull and Bert Storey and managed by Hull Property Group. Hull built Southern Square in the early '90s. He acquired Gentilly Square shortly before the Statesboro Mall, and University Square was acquired just this year.

Jim Hull has been a part of the Statesboro community for over 25 years, and I believe he is committed to being a good overseer of all his properties, especially Statesboro. Retail is always evolving, and Hull plans to continue to reinvent its centers in Statesboro to keep up with the evolution.

"We are blessed to have great properties in a thriving community and to have been a part of the growth that has occurred in Statesboro," he said. "Statesboro has been and continues to be a wonderful place with so much to offer. From a perspective of owning real estate in many different markets, the Statesboro community is special, and its future is very bright. Our properties are in a great location, but we have a lot of work to do."

Over the last few years, Hull Storey Gibson built the Tractor Supply and Buffalo Wild Wings facilities in Southern Square, expanded the Belk facility and renovated the interior of the Statesboro Mall. During the previous 25 years, the company has developed many new facilities in Statesboro, such as the 13-screen Carmike theatre, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Chick-fil-A, LongHorn Steakhouse, BiLo, Moe's and Jiffy Lube.

However, retail properties require constant improvements and reinvention to keep up with consumer demands and tastes. Hull said his team is working hard with several different retailers to re-tenant and upgrade the University Square and Southern Square shopping centers in the near future.

"We are committed to providing the capital and transactional expertise necessary to improve these centers. These centers are now about 20 years old. Shopping centers have a life cycle, and now is the right time to reinvent these centers," Hull said.

Hull and Storey have a track record of improving their properties, but timing is everything. For example, they were hindered in Southern Square because a major tenant vacated but still had a lease, so they were unable to back-fill the space. Hull now has regained full control of that space.

"Ultimately, our goal is seeing a concentrated retail corridor in Statesboro that promotes prominence by containing critical mass of desired retailers and food purveyors," Hull said. "The overall Statesboro community and our properties are benefitted by a defined retail corridor that has a cohesive first-class look, great circulation and strong critical mass. Retail fragmentation is the enemy.

"By having a dominant retail offering in a defined area, Statesboro will attract portions of the population that would otherwise go to Savannah or Augusta," he continued. "People are very visual. We want to work closer with the Statesboro leadership with an eye towards creating/nurturing this dominant retail corridor."

John Mulherin recently joined Hull's firm and will lead efforts in Statesboro.

"We absolutely want to encourage retailers to consider the existing vacant space to become part of an even stronger retail corridor," Hull said. "John and his team are working closely with the surrounding property owners and Mayor Jan Moore to institute improvements and better communication among stakeholders in and around this retail corridor to help in this effort."

Hull believes strongly that a defined retail corridor approach encourages thoughtful repurposing of the existing vacant buildings — whether that is through new retailers moving in or through demolition and rebuilding. A defined retail corridor approach significantly eliminates conditions that lead to and foster retail blight and results in many more renovations of existing facilities.

Hull recently was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents. The key appointment, combined with his local retail holdings, gives Hull, I think, even more reason to ensure positive, sustained growth in Statesboro.

Please email DeWayne at dgrice@statesboroherald.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.