Wegmans developer bought land for Chapel Hill location
On Jan. 23, Leon Capital Group, the developer of Chapel Hill’s proposed Wegmans, purchased the Performance AutoMall on U.S. 15-501 for $11.9 million. This property, in addition to two buildings purchased on Old Durham Road for $1.34 million, will be the future site of the 130,000-square-foot Wegmans food market.
The purchase comes after a $4 million economic incentive agreement was struck between the town of Chapel Hill and Orange County in October. The agreement, which involves both the town and county paying $2 million to the grocery store, was intended to draw the New York-based grocery chain to the area.
The incentive package will be disbursed to Wegmans over a five-year period and will be based on its performance.
Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the town of Chapel Hill, explained some of the requirements that must be met in order for Wegmans to receive the incentive.
“So there are performance measures — meaning they have to create a specific number of jobs,” he said. “They can only receive a percentage of the total $4 million based on job creation.”
In addition to bringing 350 full-time jobs with health benefits to the area, $30 million must be invested into developing the future building site. The town estimates that new sales and property tax revenues will be around $1.7 million annually.
The economic incentives will not go into effect until the Wegmans has been open for at least a year.
On Nov. 14 at a public hearing, the Chapel Hill Town Council heard the preliminary concept plan for the food market, passing on their comments and concerns to the developer. Among the issues brought up were the size of the parking lot (a proposed 770 spaces), the main road that traffic would enter from, and the future status of Old Durham Road.
Before construction can begin, the Performance AutoMall, which will move to its Durham site near Southpoint Mall, must first be demolished.
Jo Natale, Wegmans vice president of media relations, said that there is no definitive timetable for when construction will begin or when the store will open. She said there is still site work that’s necessary.
In addition to the Chapel Hill site, Wegmans has also confirmed three other stores in the Triangle area, one in Raleigh and two in Cary.
While the opening date isn’t yet set, people are excited about the prospect of a Wegmans in Chapel Hill.
UNC senior Chris McGuirk looks forward to the opening.
“I’m from Rochester, New York, which is where Wegmans started,” he said. “Wegmans is pretty much a cult up there — everyone’s obsessed with it, including myself. The only sad part about it coming here is that it came after I was going to leave so I don’t really get to enjoy it.”