11/10/05 — Supermarket chain has plans for empty store

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Supermarket chain has plans for empty store

By Turner Walston
Published in News on November 10, 2005 1:52 PM

Food Lion will revive the long-dormant storefront at 1809 E. Ash St., vacated by Piggly Wiggly, company officials say.

The company plans to either completely renovate the store, which is located in the Wayne Plaza Shopping Center, or to demolish the structure and construct a new building.

"We are planning to build a new store there," said Jeff Lowrance of Food Lion corporate communications. "At least a complete gutting or up-fit of the existing store, where you would build a completely new interior."

Lowrance said the store will replace the Food Lion at 1005 N. Spence Ave. Opened in 1983, the Spence Avenue location is smaller than newer Food Lion stores, Lowrance said. "It's a little more than 30,000 square feet, and we typically build 34,000- to 38,000-square-feet now."

Food Lion has owned the property on Ash Street for more than two years, and had been looking at options on how to best approach the Goldsboro-area market, Lowrance said.

He said the company is taking bids on the construction, and the new store does not yet have an estimated opening date.

When Food Lion vacates the Spence Avenue location, it will add to the growing number of empty stores in Wayne County.

When Winn-Dixie reorganized this summer, the company closed all its North Carolina stores, including three locally. Only one of those locations currently has a tenant. Southern Family Markets opened in September at 1805 Wayne Memorial Blvd.

In 1997, Winn-Dixie built a new store in Neuse River Shopping Center on Highway 117, moving across the center's parking lot. The "old" Winn-Dixie has been empty for eight years.

Once-dominant Piggly Wiggly now has just one location in Goldsboro, an independently operated store on Lionel Street. Two retail outlets, Rugged Wearhouse and It's a Buck Plus, now share the old Piggly Wiggly location in Eastgate shopping center on Berkeley Boulevard.

Amid market turmoil and increased competition from Super Wal-Mart, Food Lion has managed to maintain its presence in the area.

"We attribute that to offering things our customers want most," Lowrance said. "Food Lion's always been known for its low prices. Really, it's our efforts to make sure we continue to stay in tune with our customers and provide those things that they want."

Lowrance said he would have more details on the new Ash Street store in coming weeks.

According to Wayne County Planning Department records, Food Lion also owns the property on the corner of West Ash and North George streets occupied at times by Piggly Wiggly and A&P. Lowrance said there are no construction plans for that location in the near future.