FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 12, 2016

 

Wegmans Chooses Chapel Hill - Orange County Foodie Appetite with Business Proposal

Performance-Based Economic Incentive Proposal to be considered by Town Council and Orange County Board of Commissioners

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Chapel Hill, we love to be a food destination, a Foodie Town in Orange County that values our local farms and farmers. With a multitude of restaurants, taverns, farmers markets, food trucks, supermarkets and local cooperatives, some might wonder if there are no bounds to our appetite for wonderful food.

A Unique Proposal
Chapel Hill - Orange County have collaborated on a first-of-its-kind incentive due to unique elements:

  • Improvements to gateway location
  • Proximity to potential light rail stop
  • Number of jobs created (350)
  • Quality of jobs (incl. health insurance)
  • Investment to redevelop site ($30 M)
  • Environmental clean-up required
  • New property and sales taxes
  • Replacement for Performance AutoMall, a vehicle sales facility
  • Regional draw for shoppers
  • Natural fit for foodie culture, values


Introducing: Wegmans Food Markets, “America’s Favorite Supermarket.” 
That’s according to Market Force Information which, in April 2016, published results from a study of 10,000 consumers nationwide.  Wegmans has also been ranked consistently as the country’s best supermarket by Consumer Reports magazine. 

Headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., the family-owned company has 91 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts; more than 46,000 employees and $7.9 billion in revenue (2015).

“We are delighted to move forward with our plans for a store in Chapel Hill,” says Ralph Uttaro, Wegmans senior vice president of real estate.  “I know that we will bring a unique shopping experience to the market that will deliver on our promise of incredible customer service, the best ingredients, restaurant-quality prepared foods, and consistent low prices.”

The Town of Chapel Hill and Orange County have initiated a performance-based economic incentive proposal to potentially become the future home of a Wegmans supermarket -- and its 350 new full-time equivalent jobs and $30 million in investment.

The proposed 14-acre property on Hwy 15-501 is currently the location of Performance AutoMall, which is slated to close in July 2017.  Per the proposal, Leon Capital Group of Dallas would invest about $30 million to redevelop the property. Due to its 30-year history as a vehicle sales and service facility, environmental remediation will be necessary for its new use.

“Located on the eastern gateway to Chapel Hill, this is a unique site, one that has challenges as well as opportunity,” said Mayor Pam Hemminger. “We are working proactively to bring new retail to our town and believe that Wegmans will further solidify Chapel Hill as a regional foodie destination.”  

Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Earl McKee said Orange County is seeking out a new market for area farmers and food producers. “We are working together to attract companies that create diversified, well-paying employment opportunities for our residents,” McKee said. “This incentive proposal will help us take another step toward making Orange County more competitive – especially by adding a substantial market for farmers and food producers.”
                                                           
The Interlocal Agreement between the Town and County outlines a proposed plan for each government to contribute a maximum amount of $2 million over five years -- if Wegmans meets specific targets for new jobs, and increases in sales and property tax revenue.  The agreement will be considered by the Town Council on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, and Orange County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 18, 2016.

“If approved, the agreement is based on performance,” said Town Manager Roger Stancil. “Incentives are paid only after the company meets specific goals in jobs, property tax and sales tax from increased revenues received by the Town and County from the project. Goals are annual and achievement must be documented.”

The Town and County would each commit to providing a maximum annual $400,000 incentive for five years, depending upon the retailer’s performance each year. Orange County would serve as the primary administrator of the performance-based incentive agreement with Wegmans, and the Town will have an Interlocal Agreement with the County to contribute its portion.

“This collaborative effort is historic, and we hope to have future successful recruitment initiatives,” said Orange County Manager Bonnie Hammersley.

Chapel Hill and Orange County expect an increase of $1.7 million annually in net-new tax revenue derived from sales and property taxes as a result of the 120,000 SF project. In addition to revenue increases, the store will provide new employment opportunities for hundreds of local workers.

Wegmans ranks #4 on FORTUNE Magazine’s 2016 list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” and has been on this list every year since it first began in 1998, and in 2005, ranked #1. It also ranks #5 on FORBES 2016 list of “America’s Best Employers.”   The company has an employee scholarship program, available to both part-time and full-time employees, that has awarded more than $105 million in college tuition assistance to more than 33,000 employees since the program began in 1984.

“We are delighted to move forward with our plans for a store in Chapel Hill,” says Ralph Uttaro, Wegmans senior vice president of real estate.  “I know that we will bring a unique shopping experience to the market that will deliver on our promise of incredible customer service, the best ingredients, restaurant-quality prepared foods, and consistent low prices.”

Development Review Process – The Incentives Agreement does not change the Town of Chapel Hill’s regular development review process for the site. The applicant will submit a concept plan and Special Use Permit Application subject to the normal reviews by Town staff professionals and advisory boards, and then scheduled public hearings.

Our Shared Goals: We’re Open to Business –Chapel Hill and Orange County have partnered on initiatives to boost job creation, tax base growth and help companies grow and stay in the area.  Today, these efforts are evolving further with the drafting of a joint incentives protocol.

“Our goals are to ensure a strong economy that helps pay for the quality services our residents expect and support lower tax rates by diversifying our tax base,” said Jim Kitchen, chair of the Orange County Economic Development Advisory Board. “This has been a long-standing goal in our communities.”

“Chapel Hill and Orange County are open to business,” said Dwight Bassett, Town of Chapel Hill economic development officer. “We’re stepping up to incentivize businesses that are a natural fit and connect with our community values.”                   

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FOR MORE INFORMATION: The detailed proposed agreements are published for public review at the Town of Chapel Hill at http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/government/council-minutes-and-videos and Orange County at http://www.orangecountync.gov/departments/board_of_county_commissioners/agendas.php.

If you have any questions, please contact Catherine Lazorko, Town of Chapel Hill Communications Manager,
at 919-969-5055 or clazorko@townofchapelhill.org and Travis Myren, Orange County Deputy Manager,
at 919-245-2308 or tmyren@orangecountync.gov

The Town of Chapel Hill anticipates a concept plan submission for this project from Leon Capital Group of Dallas. All concept plans are posted at http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/planning-and-sustainability/gis-analytics/development-activity-report. For more information on the concept plan, please contact the developer directly.

What are Concept Plans? Concept Plans are required prior to the formal submittal of a major development proposal in Chapel Hill. The Town Council and Community Design Commission review concept plans at a public meeting.   

The concept plan process provides an opportunity for the Council and the public to review and provide early input to the developer. Following the completion of the concept plan process, the developer may proceed to a formal development application to the Town.