Dollar General sets sights on Douglassville
DOUGLASSVILLE- Developers overcame the first hurdle in bringing a Dollar General retail store to Douglassville Jan. 15 when city council approved issuing a building permit to commercial developers Hp Investments, LLC of New Boston.
The vote passed 4-0 with Council members Kay Gilbert and Jessica Wylie abstaining due to a personal connection with the project. Mayor Dewitt McCall said that under a 1995 ordinance a building permit must be issued before any commercial building project can progress.
Speaking at a public hearing prior to the vote Randy Barrett, with Hp Investments, said that each year Dollar General issues a “point” list of cities that qualify as potential sites. Douglassville was listed among cities on the 2018 list.
Considered a “rural small area” Douglassville would be considered for a 7,500 square foot store that would employ between four and five people.
Barrett said the building permit is just the first step. He noted that if the project moves forward his company would purchase the land and build the store, and then lease the property to Dollar General for a 15-year period. Three additional five-year periods may be added to the lease agreement.
The proposed site is at the southeast corner of Hwy. 77 West and Hwy. 8 North.
With the building permit secured, Barrett said they would now enter the “due diligence” phase of the project. During this phase, HP will conduct environmental impact studies as needed and investigate any issues with utilities such as water, sewage and electrical that would derail the project.
Once this phase is complete, Hp would submit a primary site plan and budget to Dollar General who would make the final decision about whether or not to accept the lease.
If everything goes according to plan the store would open in 2019, possibly in the first six months, Barrett told a gathering of about 35 people who attended the meeting. “Dollar General wants to be here,” he added.
Resident Ben Heath said that there are many elderly and economically disadvantaged who live in the city who would benefit from having a local store that would require them to drive less. “I think it would give us a little more freedom as we age.” He also noted that the city could also benefit from the additional sales tax revenue.
The closest residential neighbor to the proposed site, Jay Wylie, said that his family chose Douglassville as their home because it was where they wanted to raise their children. “We live in Douglassville because we want to live in Douglassville.” While in the favor of the project his concern was the long-term effect it would have on the area, especially if Dollar General chose to move out leaving a vacant building.
This concern, as well as the aesthetic appeal of the store, was expressed by others speaking at the meeting. Barrett said that over the last three year they have developed 47 Dollar General stores and that once the retailer decides on a location they are committed to the store and the community.
In Fiscal Year 2017 Dollar General Corp opened 1,285 stores and remodeled or relocated another 760 stores as part of a $22 billion plan to expand into rural communities, according to industry publication Retail Leader.