A Commercial Developer with Deep Entrepreneurial Roots
A native to the Wilmington area has had a hand in its transformation and livability
By Judy Royal » Photos by G. Frank Hart
For over 20 years, SAMM Properties has played a major role in the commercial real estate development of the Cape Fear region and beyond.
The company, however, didn’t take a direct route to its present-day specialty of vertical development of Class A retail and office projects in the Wilmington, Raleigh and Charleston areas. In fact, its roots can be traced back to the primitive entrepreneurial efforts of two ambitious teens.
Wilmington native Steve Anderson attended John T. Hoggard High School, and during his senior year he and a classmate began driving to the Lacoste mill outside of Lumberton to buy cases of the alligator logo shirts that were a fashion staple in the 70s and 80s and sell them out of the trunks of their cars at lunchtime. Soon, a flourishing retail business was born.
“After graduating from high school and a brief six-month stint at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, I realized I already had more than a full-time job after our partnership had opened three outlet stores in Wilmington, Raleigh and Chapel Hill known as A&G Outlet,” Steve says. “Those stores then evolved into men’s and ladies’ fine casual clothing under the name Anderson Clothing Company.”
That’s when a new business idea came to him.
“On the back end of my 26-year career in retail clothing, I had a lightbulb moment that instead of paying rent at my then-current location at Hanover Center, I wanted to take a chance at purchasing my own property, developing it and relocating my store,” Steve says. “Today, that chance I took was my very first development in 1999 known as Anderson Square at 4107 Oleander Drive, which is about 42,000 square feet and home to around 16 stores.”
With this success under his belt, Steve was eager to continue on the path of commercial real estate development, so he soon retired from the retail industry and made the switch to developing real estate full-time. In addition to Anderson Square, SAMM Properties has locally developed 17th Street Medical Park, Howe Creek Landing, The Offices at Airlie, six phases of The Offices at Mayfaire and the 80,000-square-foot Bradley Creek Station completed in 2020.
While SAMM Properties has been in business for over two decades, much of its growth has happened in the past six years, Steve shares. This was also around the time that his son, Parker Anderson, joined the team and helped the company expand into the Raleigh and Charleston markets in addition to Wilmington.
“In the first 20 years, SAMM developed around 500,000 square feet of office and retail, and right now on our project board we have five in the pre-construction and design phase totaling over 275,000 square feet,” Parker says.
Among the current projects is The Offices & Shoppes at Waterford in Leland, which will feature twin 38,000-square-foot three-story buildings with Class A retail on the ground floor and Class A office on the second and third floors. The Andersons have been studying this area for several years and realized the accelerated growth, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, called for opportunities to help enhance the community.
“With this project, our goal is to bring services to this community that give the people of Leland the ability to go eat, shop and see their doctor without having to go over the bridge into Wilmington,” Steve explains. “To give people the ability to retain that quality of service and lifestyle but in their own backyard is extremely important for our project and what we are bringing to the Leland community. We have had significant interest in the project and are excited about the caliber of clients we have already committed to the project with the plan of being able to start construction sometime in the first quarter of 2023.”
Another one of the company’s local projects currently on the horizon is 8604 Market Street, which is now in the design phase.
“We are looking forward to announcing this project to the public in the coming months,” Parker says. “Currently our plan is to build six buildings that will total 66,000 square feet. We are really wanting this project to provide a commercial village feel to it where you can go eat or grab coffee, walk to shops or your workout class, see your doctor, etc. With the announcement of the hospital’s plan to build their new facility right down the street and multiple new development projects all around us, as well as all the residential growth happening in the Porters Neck to Hampstead corridor along with the current rooftops already there, we are really confident this project is going to be a great addition to this community and give people the ability to stay close to home for services they want and need.”
As the popularity of Wilmington expands, so do the opportunities for development in outlying areas, something SAMM Properties is always monitoring.
“Wilmington and our surrounding areas have without a doubt been the best-kept secret for many years, but that secret is no more,” Steve says. “Being born here 65 years ago and watching Wilmington transform over the years, I had no doubt we would start to experience incredible growth. With the growth and spillover into surrounding areas, we have strategically focused our next two projects in Leland and the northern part of New Hanover County on the way to Hampstead where so much of our growth is heading, and we believe you will only start to see more opportunity in surrounding areas because of that.”
While Parker admits that supply-chain issues and rising construction costs have posed challenges during this period of prosperity, he’s optimistic these obstacles will resolve themselves in the new year.
“Our biggest hope for our industry in 2023 will be a continuation that has already begun of construction prices coming down and lead times for material improving,” he says. “We anticipate continued growth in all the areas we are developing and are bullish on the opportunities that come with continued growth.”