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Developer clears roadblocks, opens North Carolina shopping, dining and entertainment center amid pandemic

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For Dotan Zuckermanthe construction of the first phase of Fenton in North Carolina has faced several obstacles, including an ongoing global health crisis, major supply chain issues and the death of one of the visionaries of the mixed-use development .

But Zuckerman, director and vice president of leasing at Columbia Development, and Hines have now officially opened Fenton in Cary, just outside the state capital of Raleigh.

It took seven years to get here, Zuckerman said.

“I always say one day I’ll write a book about the whole Fenton story and how we opened up,” he said in an interview. “But we’ve had the pandemic, we’ve had supply chain issues, we’ve had delays. But now we’re in great shape.”

Retail space in Fenton, where the development team held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, is more than 95% leased, Zuckerman said. Tenants include Pottery Barn, Athleta, Free People, Lululemon, Arhaus, Nike and Paragon Theatres.

Columbia Development, based in the capital of South Carolina, and its partner Hines launched construction of Fenton, a 2.5 million square foot retail project in the affluent suburb of Raleigh, in late 2020. In addition to 345,000 square feet of retail space, the first phase includes apartments and offices.

With the opening of the first phase, Columbia aims to add high-end retailers, Zuckerman said.

“Our second phase will include an additional 100,000 square feet of retail space. We’ve just started the design and thought about what this will become,” he said.

Surprisingly, a true luxury retail market doesn’t exist in the region, so Columbia sees an opportunity to create one, Zuckerman said. “We’re going to talk about the market and how it’s changed over the years, and if we get good feedback, maybe we’ll go in that direction.”

On Friday, Columbia plans to honor one of its own, the late Ron Pfohl, who was instrumental in the creation and development of Fenton. Pfohl, well known in the Southeast for his role in the Forum and Avalon near Atlanta and other retail-centric projects, died suddenly last year at the age of 59.

“We have an honorarium for Ron Pfohl, who is a legend in the industry, and he was one of the visionaries on this project and really helped bring the partnership together,” Zuckerman said.

On Saturday, a grand opening is planned for all those who wish to attend.