Wegmans approved to open in Chapel Hill

Wegmans Food Markets is coming to Chapel Hill, bringing with it an abundance of products and wholesome service.

The Chapel Hill Town Council and the Orange County Board of County Commissioners agreed to offer Wegmans financial incentives to open a store in Chapel Hill.

Wegmans Food Market is coming to Chapel Hill, bringing with it an abundance of varied products and wholesome service.

Known as “America’s Favorite Supermarket,” the New York-based, family-owned store has 92 stores in six states. North Carolina will be the seventh.

Jo Natale, vice president of media relations for Wegmans, explained the careful process of choosing a new store location. She said size, density and location are key.

“We like to be in locations that are easy to find and easy to get to,” Natale said. “As well as part of developments that complement food retail.”

The proposed area for the supermarket is the 14-acre property on Hwy 15-501. That’s currently the location of Performance AutoMall, which will close in July 2017.

Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill’s economic development officer, said Wegmans will add a lot to the community while making the most out of available space.

“We looked at what’s located on the site now, and we don’t see the kind of benefit coming out of the site now that we will see with this new grocery store,” Bassett said.

Bassett said that while $30 million will be spent developing the property. Wegmans is expecting an estimated $83 million in proceeds by the end of the fifth year. Increased tax revenue is also key in bringing Wegmans to Chapel Hill.

“Between the town and county, there’s a potential of $1.7 million in new tax revenue,” Bassett said.

This would make Wegmans the largest tax generator in Orange County, Bassett said.

Other future Wegmans locations were announced in Cary in January and in Raleigh on Oct. 26.

After working with Wegmans for 31 years, Natale said Wegmans is not just a great place to shop but also a great place to work.

With more than 46,000 employees nationally and $7.9 billion in revenue in 2015, Wegmans plans to expand the job market in Chapel Hill by bringing in 350 full-time jobs. Bassett said 70 percent of the 350 full-time employees will be making at least $12 an hour.

“I’m a pretty loyal Trader Joe’s customer, but I know Wegmans is a good place for teenagers to work,” said Jessa O’Connor, a UNC senior.

O’Connor said she would be likely to buy from Wegmans if the prices are comparable and the location proves accessible.

While some UNC students were not very familiar with Wegmans, Erin Brewer, a Pennsylvania native and UNC junior, has been a loyal customer for many years.

“I love Wegmans,” Brewer said. “They have them in Erie and are seriously the best supermarket to have in your area. Their produce selection is unmatched by competitors because they source from local farms. Also, their baked goods are to die for.”

@lindseykehres  

city@dailytarheel.com

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