A million dollar store? Family Dollar says no thanks

Chain will not be building a new store in Mount Jackson

By Katie Demeria

Plans to build a Family Dollar in Mount Jackson have been halted for good.

According to Alvin Henry, owner of the property at 5450 N. Main St. where the business would have been constructed, the company has officially turned down the project that has been in the works since March 2013.

Henry attributed Family Dollar’s refusal to move forward to the cost of the project, which grew higher and higher as more requirements were placed on the store by the town.

“The project total cost was well over $1 million,” Henry said.

Family Dollar, Henry said, operates by hiring an independent agent to find a place to build a store in an area, in this case southern Shenandoah County.

“They go ahead and get everything ready, then bring it back to Family Dollar for approval,” he said.

It was on Monday, after over a year of working with the town, that the company announced it was turning down the project.

Henry said the independent agent cut his costs down substantially, but it was still too high for the company.

“This was going to be one of the most expensive stores they ever built,” Henry said. “Mount Jackson loaded them up on a lot of extra stuff they’re not used to.”

Though current Town Manager Kevin Fauber entered his position at the tail end of the approval process, he said, he was familiar with some of the requirements placed on the proposed project.

“The project fell under a special use application,” Fauber said. “The town has some design guidelines that they follow, particularly in the business district.”

According to Fauber, anything over 3,000 square feet, such as the proposed Family Dollar, needs to go through a special use permit process.

The town required that the building be brick, and design guidelines required the building to be located closer to the street to allow for parking in the rear, which necessitated the construction of a retaining wall.

Fauber pointed out that other new businesses went through similar design guidelines before they were completed.

“The standards were just applied to the Family Dollar project, and I would say, probably, moving forward, the planning commission [and] council will be looking for the same type of building standards,” he said.

According to Henry, new Family Dollars are being constructed in Broadway and Harrisonburg. One is also going up near Stephens City.

But Fauber said, as far as he knows, the company has been going through some restructuring, closing stores nationwide and in Virginia.

Family Dollar representatives were unavailable for comment Wednesday, but in an April news release it announced its plans to close approximately 370 stores.

Henry said he is uncertain what will happen to the property. During the year in which negotiations were taking place, he kept the for sale/rent sign up and received some inquiries.

“Of course I’m disappointed,” Henry said. “I had plenty of calls on the property, and I simply told the people that it was sold. I’m probably going to put the sign back up and either rent it or sell it, one of the two.”

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com