An analysis of two parcels owned by the City of Statesville along Shelton Avenue concluded that the sites will not likely attract private development of a grocery store.

Retail Strategies evaluated city-owned property at 1832 and 1809 Shelton Avenue and determined that those sites are probably too small to attract a large grocer and the cluster of smaller retail businesses that typically accompany grocery stores.

Matt Jaeger, a portfolio director for Retail Strategies, conducted the analysis at the request of city officials. During Monday’s council meeting, he said that the existing grocers in the Statesville market more than meet consumer demand and that the market is “potentially over-grocered.”

Construction costs and interest rates also make the city-owned sites challenging for attracting a developer, Jaeger said. But a small chain, such as IGA or Piggly Wiggly, could find the sites attractive, he said.

Retro-fitting the former Food Lion site on Shelton Avenue, which is owned by the Statesville Housing Authority, would be more cost-effective for a developer than building on a new site, Jaeger said.

Based on his analysis, Jaeger told the council that the city-owned properties could attract development in several other business segments, including building materials and supply, health and personal care, restaurants with drive-thrus, gas stations and self-storage companies.

Councilman Frederick Foster has been a strong advocate for recruiting a grocery store in that area of Statesville for years. The analysis by Retail Strategies was undertaken after Foster asked the council in June to approve a Request for Proposals for a grocery store on the city-owned property.

But council members declined to approve a motion for the RFP until after the market analysis was completed.

Following Jaeger’s presentation on Monday, the council decided to schedule a meeting with the Statesville Housing Authority to discuss possible redevelopment of the old Food Lion site.

At least one councilmember was skeptical of the effort.

Steve Johnson, who owns a business on Shelton Avenue, told his fellow council members that the analysis confirmed what the grocery industry had already decided — that there was no need to build a new store in that area.

“We just heard there is a glut of grocery stores in Statesville … a $106 million deficit,” Johnson said.

He said he would not support a plan that involves using public funds to build a grocery store.

“If it involves any money and risk of taxpayer money to make this project work, no will be my answer … absolutely not,” Johnson said.

Foster and Councilwoman Doris Allison pushed back.

“We need some action, Steve. We’ve been a food desert for 30 years,” Foster said.

“We have people who need to have a grocery store,” Allison told Johnson. “Your vote is just one.”

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