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Monday April 12th

Chapel Hill Town Council approves Wegmans development

<p>Photo courtesy of Catherine Lazorko, Town of Chapel Hill's communications manager.</p>
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Photo courtesy of Catherine Lazorko, Town of Chapel Hill's communications manager.

The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday to develop a Wegmans grocery store off Fordham Boulevard. 

The development, which is located at the current Performance AutoMall site, will include the construction of the 130,000-square-foot grocery store, a parking lot with 750 parking spaces and two electric vehicle charging stations. The development also calls for the demolition of the current building found on the site.

The council passed a resolution last year in conjunction with Orange County to provide the grocery chain with financial incentives to develop a new store in Chapel Hill.

The store is set to create at least 350 jobs for the community under the initial financial incentive agreement that brought Wegmans to Orange County. The chain has also promised to provide a minimum pay of $12 per hour for 70 percent of the store’s full time employees. 

Many nearby residents voiced their concerns about increased traffic in their neighborhood at a public hearing held in September. To address this the Council adopted modifications to the development’s traffic management plan Wednesday to allow for direct access to the store from Fordham Boulevard through a service road, which will reduce cut through traffic in nearby neighborhoods. 

Wegmans has also pledged to provide the town with resources to help implement traffic calming measures in nearby neighborhoods.

The New York-based grocery chain currently operates 94 stores across six different states. The redevelopment project is set to begin in early 2018, and the new store could open in 2019. The Chapel Hill store is one of four proposed Wegmans stores for the Triangle area. 

The rapid turnaround for the Performance AutoMall site is one of the greatest economic benefits for the town said Ben Hitchings, Chapel Hill’s planning and development services director.

“This project allows for seamless redevelopment of a site that is about to be vacated, and now we have a new desirable use that will serve the community,” he said.

The job creation, tax base growth and the bringing of new shoppers to Chapel Hill are three key economic benefits that the store will bring to the town, Chapel Hill’s Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett said.

UNC senior Maia Quinn currently does most of her grocery shopping at Food Lion or Trader Joe’s. Although she has never shopped at a Wegmans before, she said she's excited to go to the new store.

“I would definitely go when it opens and see how it is," she said. "I think it will be a popular place to go when it first opens, but if it's new to the south we’ll have to test it out and see." 

@karltontate

city@dailytarheel.com

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