Family Dollar builds new store as retail surges in city

  • Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 12:57 a.m.

SALISBURY — Family Dollar plans to open a standalone store on West Jake Alexander Boulevard between Katana Japanese Fusion and Bank of North Carolina, adding to the growing number of new retail projects going up in Salisbury.

General contractor Greenfield Construction of Monroe is building the 9,200-square-foot Family Dollar, which should open by early March, said Trey Cleaton, a city planner who managed the project in Salisbury’s one-stop shop for developers.

The Family Dollar project joins retail, hotel and restaurant development already under way at Wallace Commons (Belk, Ulta, Michaels and Shoe Carnival) and Innes Street Market (Courtyard Marriott, Big Lots and Panera Bread, with two unnamed future retailers).

Family Dollar has an existing store in the Food Lion shopping center, not far from the construction site. It wasn’t immediately clear if the existing store will relocate to the new building.

The North Carolina-based discount chain operates three stores in Salisbury.

The sudden rush of retail construction and activity — a new Dollar Tree will open Saturday at Wallace Commons — reflects a culmination of several factors, said Robert Van Geons, executive director of RowanWorks Economic Development Commission.

The combination of rebound employment, an uptick in consumer spending, growth in the market and even more manufacturing jobs announcements have worked together to convince retailers to pull the trigger on projects that may have been on hold for years, Van Geons said.

“Some projects started looking at this community in the heart of the recession,” he said. “Now they know we are through the worst.”

Large developments like the Courtyard Marriott, under construction on East Innes Street at Interstate 85, and the new Belk at Wallace Commons, also going up on I-85, can convince other developers to take the plunge, Van Geons said.

“It takes a variety of factors to get to a tipping point,” he said. “As you see growth in a sector, it can feed additional growth.”

Not every project spurs other development. When the existing Wallace Commons anchored by Kohl’s opened during the recession, the project happened in a vacuum and didn’t encourage other retailers to build, Van Geons said.

The shopping center stood half empty for several years but is now full with the recent addition of Dollar Tree, Nana’s Nook, Glidden Paint and Los Arcos Mexican restaurant.

Need is another important factor companies consider, Van Geons said. Salisbury and Rowan County have been underserved by retailers for years, and residents here spend roughly $110 million every year at retailers outside the county.

“We are a great market between Winston-Salem and Charlotte,” Van Geons said. “If your nearest store is south of the Speedway, you want to tap this market.”

A new pro-business attitude by both city and county government also has helped spur growth, he said.

Companies “need to feel this is a business-friendly community,” Van Geons said. “The city and county are making news in the region about being more welcoming to businesses.”

The city opened the one-stop shop for development, and Rowan recently hired local architect Pete Bogle to turn around the codes enforcement department, which had been seen as a stumbling block by developers for years.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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