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For Downtown Wilmington, A Grocery Store Prospect In The Wings

By Cece Nunn, posted Nov 5, 2020
A grocery store is seriously interested in opening a location in downtown Wilmington.

Dane Scalise, chair of the board of directors for Wilmington Downtown Inc. (WDI), said he couldn't disclose the name of the store, but that "it's a real prospect."

Scalise said, "We have been approached; there is someone who is interested presently and seriously in reopening, re-establishing a grocery store concept in downtown Wilmington.

"They're reviewing sites, coming up with plans, collaborating with WDI about the logistics associated with it."

Downtown businesses and residents have wanted for a long time to have a permanent grocery store downtown.

"The No. 1 issue that we hear from our constituents is, 'Grocery store downtown, how do we get this?'" Scalise said.

WDI emailed a link to a survey recently asking what residents might want from a grocery store to gather more information for the prospect. The survey deadline is Nov. 13.

A DGX, a high-end urban market concept from Dollar General, recently opened in downtown Wilmington, at 250 N. Water St. in River Place. The store carries "a selection of produce and other perishable groceries, a prepared foods section and selective alcohol products," according to a previous news release.

Scalise said another source of groceries would also be welcomed. 

"The more, the merrier," Scalise said in an email. "People like options."

Downtown grocery store Farmin' on Front, which opened in 2016 in the 5,100-square-foot space at 143 N. Front St., closed permanently in 2018. The building is still equipped for a grocery store and is available for lease. 

But with more businesses opening (40 new businesses this year, Scalise said) and more residents coming to apartments under construction, downtown officials feel the time is now.

Scalise said, "The folks who are exploring this grocery store are looking at the changing landscape of downtown, the increased residential possibilities, the increased commercial possibilities and saying, 'We want to get out ahead of this.'"

That doesn't mean it's a done deal.

"We're very hopeful for it. I'm not sure if it's going to land. I hope that it will; I think that it will. If it does, it will be a massive benefit to downtown," Scalise said. "We need a grocery store in downtown."
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