Representatives of Family Dollar, the neighborhood discount store chain that has grown far beyond the Charlotte, N.C. neighborhood where its first store opened 54 years ago, have had talks in recent weeks with the owner of the roughly 12 acres of commercially zoned property opposite Bank Road from Union First Market Bank, along U.S. 211 in the center of the county.
Though property owner Jimmy DeBergh of Washington said Tuesday he has no offer or letter of intent from Family Dollar, he said he has discussed the property with company representatives. The company has also consulted in recent weeks with County Administrator John McCarthy, who said he discussed traffic, deed restrictions and site plan questions with a representative of Family Dollar, which operates close to 7,500 stores in 45 states, including many rural locations.
A new Family Dollar store opened on Main Street in Madison last year; there are Family Dollar stores in Luray, Front Royal and two in Culpeper. The company’s website lists 35 stores scheduled to open around the country – this month. For the quarter ending Nov. 24, Family Dollar reported net sales of $2.42 billion.
Mike Leake, Regional President for Union First, said this week that Family Dollar’s interest in the property goes back more than a few years. The bank, which purchased the property in 2002, when it moved from Gay Street in the town of Washington to the four-lane commercial district, sold its 10 acres to DeBergh last fall (when the county, which owned two adjacent acres it once planned to use for a county office facility, also sold its Bank Road tract to DeBergh). The properties Family Dollar is interested in comprise both the bank’s and the county’s former tracts.
McCarthy said the last he heard, the company was investigating requirements for a median pass-through at Bank Road (to allow left turns for westbound traffic); when the bank moved to the location, McCarthy said, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) regulations required 1,000 feet between pass-throughs. VDOT has since relaxed those limits and allowed local jurisdictions to request exceptions.
“If they decide to go forward with this,” McCarthy said, “there is no special permit needed – that area is zoned for commercial, per the comprehensive plan.”
When Union First Bank, then Rappahannock National Bank, acquired the property, it did add covenants to the deeds of all the tracts – which include those DeBergh now owns as well as the bank’s own site and another adjacent piece still held by Fauquier Hospital (which had a long-term plan to build medical offices and a possible pharmacy there). The covenants require that the use of the properties be for professional offices or government offices, but allow the “declarant” to approve exceptions. (It was unclear this week whether DeBergh is the sole declarant or shares this role with the bank.)