Norman officials: Family Dollar still coming

By Kevin Spradlin

NORMAN — Officials with the town of Norman said Monday they still expect Family Dollar to build a new store there despite the sale of the company to rival Dollar Tree.

The corporate takeover was announced July 28. Dollar Store will purchase Family Dollar for approximately $8.5 billion. Despite that, Norman Mayor Kenneth Broadway said Family Dollar representatives are moving forward.

Kevin Spradlin | Family Dollar could open a new store in Norman at the corner of U.S. Route 220 Alternae and East Moore Street.

Kevin Spradlin |
Family Dollar could open a new store in Norman at the corner of U.S. Route 220 Alternae and East Moore Street.

“We signed the papers (with Family Dollar) two weeks earlier” than the sale of the company, Broadway told council members. “As far as we know, they’re still coming.”

Broadway said the company has eyed the former BP and Gulf gas station situated beside the Norman Community Building at the corner of U.S. Route 220 Alternate and East Moore Street. At its June meeting, the mayor and town council agreed to pay up to $25,000 in clean-up fees for the site if there is contamination. Broadway said a soil test was conducted in 1994 and no contamination was found.

Broadway said he’s hopeful the company wouldn’t begin work until after Norman Fest, set for Oct. 11, or after the November general election. Within a five-mile radius of the town of Norman, Broadway said, the store could see a lot of traffic.

“I think it’ll benefit the two little businesses that we have,” Broadway said of Matt’s gas station and the General Store.

It would be the fifth Family Dollar store in Richmond County. Family Dollar operates one store on East Broad Avenue in Rockingham, a second on West Hamlet Avenue in Hamlet and a third on Main Street in Ellerbe. A fourth location is under construction in East Rockingham at the corner of Airport Road and Entwistle Street.

Three months before the sale was disclosed, Family Dollar announced it was closing 370 stores across the country, including 19 in North Carolina. The list of stores to be shuttered was made available in early July. There were no Richmond County stores on the list and one source indicated the company was eliminating all locations that were in strip malls and otherwise not stand-alone ventures.

Broadway and others discussed during Monday’s public meeting possible beautification efforts. The idea of a deli coming to town turned heads.

“We need that big time,” Broadway said.

As part of a larger effort, a new Family Dollar store would likely also take the town’s adjacent Community Building. Town officials are considering whether to build a new standalone center that could be connected to Town Hall via a walkway or added on to the existing building. Either option would eliminate the need to build a second bathroom so long as the restrooms inside Town Hall were brought up to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Vanessa Ingram

Vanessa Ingram

Vanessa Ingram, a Richmond County native and currently a student at UNC-Pembroke, addressed the council and mentioned a group paper she and some classmates had recently completed on the town of Norman. Specifically, she said the paper was intended to take a place like Norman and create an action project.

She and her group members agreed that Norman needs to be spruced up. Ingram said the group looked at community development issues and concluded that “you have to make people want to come.”

Ingram suggested the town consider building a park to be a year-round gathering place for families. She said Dena White, pastor at Norman Methodist Church who also attended Monday’s meeting, was receptive to the idea.

“I think if we can beautify Norman, you’d be surprised at the people … that came in,” Ingram said.

Ingram added that she’d like to see a senior center or community center, possibly with a  walking trail, open in Norman as well.

“If we put our heads together, we can do it,” she said.

Town Council members suggested putting together a committee, which Ingram will head, and possibly being spreading the word and signing up volunteers to help with the project at this year’s Norman Fest.

Ingram said that during her project, she learned that seniors especially felt out of the loop after reaching a certain age. She hopes to enlist their help.

“Everybody can do something,” Ingram said. “We’re willing and ready to put Norman on the map again.”

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