The new Food Lion at Hwy. 17 and Harris Trail Road opened its doors Wednesday – just days after the Richmond Hill Harvey’s closed its doors. Both banners are owned by Food Lion LLC.
The Harvey’s store was located at the Ways Station shopping center at Hwy. 17 and 144 for 20 years. It started as a Food Lion, but the banner changed in 2006. Local officials have expressed both optimism for the potential positive economic impact the store is expected to bring and also concern for the vacancy it leaves at the old Harvey’s spot.
"I think the store will do great here; it’s a great location for a grocery store," Mayor Harold Fowler said. "A lot of people get off exit 87."
Fowler said the only drawback is the vacancy that is now created at the Hwy. 17 and 144 intersection, which already features the large empty lot where Kroger used to be.
"Being on this side of 17, with traffic patterns the way they are, they’ll be able to capture more people commuting south of Richmond Hill and North Liberty County," said Josh Fenn, director of the Bryan County Development Authority. "It’s an impressive store. This is the new model for Food Lion and it’s exciting to have that here. We do need some revitalization at the 17-95 interchange, and this is a good start."
Fenn said the large empty stores bring to the forefront the fact that Bryan County needs more commercial and retail commerce.
"We do lack in diversification in those areas, and the Development Authority is working on that in partnership with the City of Richmond Hill and Pembroke," Fenn said. "But filling those stores is easier said than done in this economy. We’re trying to kick around some ideas, seeing what’s worked in other communities revitalizing these second generation big boxes."
-Read more in the Bryan County News.