Roanoke City Council approves specialty grocer for Franklin Road

By Rob Manch - Reporter
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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Roanoke City Council unanimously approves the plans for a new specialty grocery store along Franklin Road.

Construction is expected to begin early next year.

Now, City Council members and people living in the area say they're excited for a corridor on the rise.

It's a trend they say started with the opening of the Carilion Outpatient Center off of Franklin earlier this year.

Then earlier this month, Mellow Mushroom Pizza opened in the same area.

It's a good sign for people living there, who saw the Ukrops store close just seven years ago.

City Council members say Franklin Road wasn't always the busy thoroughfare that it is today.

"If you've been in Roanoke more than just a few years, you probably remember when that stretch of Franklin Road was in pretty bad shape," said City Council Member Bill Bestpitch.

For years, empty lots and vacant store fronts dotted the stretch, but new restaurant Mellow Mushroom signifies -- that's all in the past.

"Business has been great. During the week we're averaging about 750 to about 850 people walking through the door, and on the weekends it can range anywhere from 900 to a thousand people," said Co-Owner Emery Wallace.

Wallace says the customer base was always there, her company just had to tap into it.

"They don't have to go downtown, they don't have to go out to the mall. They can literally come right down the street, you can walk, and it's attracting a lot more people," said Wallace.

A new planned grocer, which has yet to be named, will go in next door to Mellow Mushroom.

The attorney representing the developer says the new company doesn't think it will meet the same fate as Ukrops.

"They've concluded that this really is an important corridor, that it's a growing corridor, it links to a lot of neighborhoods, so they're satisfied that they will be successful," said Attorney Maryellen Goodlatte.

Monday night, City Council unanimously agreed that growth is real.

"Success breeds success, so when these businesses are going well, I think you'll see some additional development happening, and that'll be very positive for us," said Bestpitch.

For Wallace, she hopes development doesn't stop with the new store.

"I think that this area is up and coming and growing. You see a lot of construction that's going on, so hopefully us starting it out will definitely bring more businesses to this Franklin Road, and this area," said Wallace.

The City also unanimously approved an incentive package tonight for the new company.

The City plans to refund 50 percent of all the new company's sales and meal tax for the first year it's in operation.

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