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Cornelius News

White House Gardens moving to Denver after 30 years on W. Catawba

Chris Smiley: 30 years on W. Catawba

Feb. 9. By Dave Yochum. White House Gardens, a fixture on West Catawba for 30 years, is moving to Denver to make way for a new 195-unit residential complex from the developer of the luxury Watermark condominiums.

“Cornelius has been great to me,” said White House owner Chris Smiley, who is now 63. Having opened up on Super Bowl weekend in 1994, he’s seen Cornelius grow from roughly 5,000 people to more than 30,000, many of them with a hankering for swank outdoor living spaces.

Fountains on tap

Some homeowners have bought three or four fountains as they’ve moved from one home to another.

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Smiley said he has lived the American Dream. “I’m just some guy from Nova Scotia who got pretty lucky,” he said. He and his wife Mary have a condo in Windward and a vacation place in Florida.

In fact, he thought about retiring when the acreage on West Catawba at Junker Drive sold but Smiley enjoys his work—and customers—too much.

Denver bound

Starting in March he is taking over much of the Red Barn Marketplace at 1612 NC 16 in Denver. He’ll have the same product lines—fountains, benches, planters—in a more retail-friendly setting.

Interestingly enough, 60 percent of his business comes from people who live more than 20 miles away.

Both sites will be open for part of the spring, with the Denver move-in completed by mid-March. Six full-time employees will help make it all happen.


The new development that is coming in is currently known as the Junker project, before that the Cameryn Elise when developer Jake Palillo first proposed it. As yet un-named, the new apartments will take about four years to complete. Jamie Rolewicz, who is developing them with West Catawba Properties, comprised of Legacy Pointe Properties and New Castle Development Group, is well-known for the Hyde Park commercial development on Bailey Road and the Watermark luxury condominiums near Goodwill.

Junker Project aerial view. White House Gardens is in the lower right


7 Responses to “White House Gardens moving to Denver after 30 years on W. Catawba”

  1. Congratulations Chris and Mary. You put W Catawba on the map. Thousands have enjoyed visiting the WH. All the best in Denver. Frankie Dell

    Posted by James Martens | February 9, 2024, 12:47 pm
    • Thanks to Chris and his friendly staff, I have beautiful memories of buying garden treasures for my house built in Westport three years ago. I was living in a hotel in Charlotte and they worked patiently with me on putting my vision together. I’m HAPPY they will not only remain open but be even closer. Congratulations Chris and Gang! Beverly Caldwell

      Posted by Beverly Caldwell | February 9, 2024, 8:07 pm
  2. What a travesty to lose this lovely place that gave Cornelius authenticity and “texture “!
    How do we stop the over development in our area!
    So sad!

    Posted by Rebecca Wimbush | February 10, 2024, 12:04 am
  3. No doubt you will keep on being successful. Many of us will be sad to see you move but will still drive to Denver and pickup a chair or 2!

    Posted by Jeff | February 10, 2024, 2:03 am
  4. This store has always made me happy when I ride by. Thanks for letting us enjoy the decorative garden features. Thanks also for staying open. See you in Denver. Dee

    Posted by Dee Rogers | February 10, 2024, 10:26 am
  5. Welcome to Denver! We’ve often wanted to stop by but we were always going to an appointment somewhere else.

    Posted by MARY L Halperin | February 10, 2024, 2:03 pm
  6. How high (how many stories) will these new apartment buildings be?

    Posted by Joe | February 10, 2024, 11:16 pm

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