ROCKINGHAM — Dunkin’ Donuts is bringing its namesake sweets and coffee to Richmond Plaza as the shopping center adds tenants in the midst of a $3 million facelift.
A regional franchisee plans to open a 2,000 square-foot Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant and women’s apparel stores Rainbow and Rue21 have leased space in the East Broad Avenue plaza, said Neil Robinette, CEO of real estate developer Tri City Inc.
“I think it’s three great brands to add to our lineup here,” Robinette said. “This is working toward what we were envisioning when we started the process of renovating this shopping center. We just needed to enhance our physical presence and let people know we were committed to it.”
The former Radio Shack building will be razed and a stand-alone structure to be built in its place will house Dunkin’ Donuts, Robinette explained. The new building also has space for an adjoining tenant.
Coastal Franchising, which owned 37 Dunkin’ Donuts locations as of October 2015, will operate the Rockingham restaurant. Last fall, the franchise group led by George Ross announced plans to open outposts in Raleigh, Charlotte and Wilmington as well as four in Charleston, South Carolina.
Robinette said construction plans are “95 percent done.” Construction is expected to take four to five months and Dunkin’ Donuts should be open in time to serve up pumpkin spice coffee in the fall of 2016.
“We hope to be under construction this spring and open sometime late this summer,” Robinette said.
Rockingham-based Stogner Architecture designed the Dunkin’ Donuts building and is completing site plans. A contractor for the project has not yet been chosen.
Radio Shack closed its Rockingham location in a national shutdown of more than 1,000 stores following a February 2015 bankruptcy filing. The electronics store opened in Rockingham in 1974 and had moved to its most recent location in 2001.
In addition to doughnuts, coffee and blended espresso drinks, Dunkin’ Donuts offers a full menu of breakfast and bakery sandwiches on bagels, croissants, flatbread and English muffins. Through its franchise network, Dunkin’ Donuts has more than 8,000 U.S. restaurants and another 3,200-plus in 36 countries.
Rainbow Shops, a Brooklyn-based women’s clothing retailer that bills itself as “the final say in affordable style,” will open its doors in a 7,500 square-foot parcel between the Save-A-Lot supermarket and Shoe Show.
A leading fast-fashion chain, Rainbow operates about 1,300 U.S. stores and offers juniors, plus-size and children’s clothing along with women’s and kids’ shoes.
Rue21 will set up shop in a 6,500 square-foot section of Richmond Plaza beside the Maxway store that will soon be rebranded as Roses Express. Robinette called the retailer “a good tenant that complements what we’re doing here.”
Known for its women’s apparel, Rue21 also sells men’s clothing under its Carbon Elements and RueGuy labels. Its brands are popular among teens and young adults, with Forbes magazine noting its threads are “designed to appeal to 11- to 17-year-olds who aspire to be 21 and adults who want to look and feel 21.”
Headquartered in Pennsylvania, Rue21 had 1,111 U.S. stores at the end of 2014.
Robinette said Rainbow is aiming for a late spring opening date and Rue21 plans to open its doors this summer.
“Neither one of these is in Southern Pines or Moore County, which to us is a big benefit,” Robinette said. “We were able to attract them here, which was a huge coup for us. We’re really excited to bring them on board.”
The three new tenants are part of a renovation of the nearly 50-year-old Richmond Plaza announced last June. Work began with the Belk department store’s new facade. Modernizing the shopping center is expected to cost between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.
Southern Builders of Rockingham has been hired to complete renovations for all existing stores, and Robinette said the local contractor is “doing a fantastic job.”
More new tenants are on the way, and Robinette said the First Bank building at the Broad Avenue entrance to Richmond Plaza would be an ideal location for a casual dining chain.
Tri City hopes the facelift and the addition of new stores will make Richmond Plaza a regional shopping destination for residents of Richmond, Anson and Scotland counties as well as Chesterfield and Marlboro counties in South Carolina. The investment may also reduce the demand among Richmond residents to shop and dine in neighboring Moore County.
“The key to continuing this process is keeping that local support with people making an effort to try us out here and shop in these local stores that are within the community,” Robinette said. “That’s what drives these opportunities — getting out and supporting what we have here now.”
Reach Editor Corey Friedman at 910-817-2670 and follow him on Twitter @corey_friedman.