Thursday, February 2, 2023

Burgaw ABC Store to double in size, relocate

The Pender County ABC Board is relocating its headquarters and doubling in size to a currently vacant tract of property catty-corner to the current facility. (Courtesy/Smith Sinnett Architecture)

BURGAW — After undergoing a four-year process, the Pender County ABC Board will open an expanded facility in Burgaw by early 2024. Burgaw Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday evening to approve a special-use permit to allow the build.

The board began searching for new space in 2018 when its current location at 207 U.S. Highway 117 was unable to keep up with increased demand. The store — founded in Burgaw in the 1960s — serves as the county warehouse base and disperses products to ABC stores in Rocky Point, Hampstead and Surf City.

It also distributes products restaurants and bars, as well as serves walk-in customers, according to board lawyer and spokesperson Robert Kenan.

“The customer base was requesting products for which the current system did not have the storage capacity to temporarily store upon receiving shipments from the North Carolina ABC Commission before distributing,” Kenan explained to Port City Daily. “The increased sales during the Covid-19 pandemic further necessitated the need to construct a new facility.”

Gross sales for Pender County increased from $8.6 million to $10.6 million, or 23.6%, from 2020 to 2021.

The current Pender County ABC headquarters contains 1,000 square feet of retail space with a 500-square foot stockroom, 450 square feet for offices and administrative staff and a 3,200-square-foot warehouse, with limited stacking space.

The expanded facility will more than double in size with 15,300 square feet on 3.71 acres of land across the street from the intersection of E. Fremont Street and U.S. Highway 117.  It will include 8,000 square feet of warehouse space in a 27-foot-tall building. The retail side will increase to 3,000 square feet, with a 1,500-square-foot stockroom and 1,500 square feet for office space. There will be 33 parking spaces surrounding the building and two will be handicapped-accessible.

Pender County ABC Board entered into a purchase agreement with landowner Eva Jones in 2020 and closed on the $27,500 sale in May 2022. Raleigh’s Smith Sinnett Architecture was chosen by the ABC board among seven submittals for the design work, and Bordeaux Construction will carry out the build, slated to begin in spring 2023.

“The owner was excited to create a building that didn’t look like the average ABC store,” Smith Sinnet project manager Drew Wilgus told commissioners Tuesday. “The idea is to draw people in.”

The front of the store faces the highway with two separate entrances for retail and administration; and the building is being designed with different materials to easily delineate between the two. The retail side will feature a translucent glass and metal exterior and the warehouse aspect will comprise decorative concrete.

The signage will feature a lowercase “abc” varying from the usual uppercase “ABC” seen at other locations.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is not requiring any additional road improvements but has requested the two proposed driveways be a minimum of 100-feet long for ingress and egress.

Wilgus explained the property is zoned B-2 (highway business district). It’s located in a commercial corridor, identified in Burgaw’s 2030 Land Use Plan to be used for commercial growth.

Kenan told the board the location, style and use of building will not affect adjoining or abutting property values; it might increase them by “fostering redevelopment” or other vacant lots being sold along the corridor adding to the town’s tax base, he said.

The currently vacant land was home to Batson FCX, an agriculture supply store, which closed in the early 1980s. The structures on site have since been torn down.

“It specifically meets the goals of the land use plan to promote in-fill development and revitalization where there is existing infrastructure,” Kenan told commissioners Tuesday.

The expanded space will support increased economic development and support profitability for the town and county, Kenan added, with the ability to handle more sales. The new facility will be able to serve a larger customer base and offer more products. Though, an exact economic analysis has not been done.

Once the building is constructed and ready for use, the old site will be sold, with proceeds offsetting the cost of the new build.

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