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Ask Matt ... will Laurel Park get a new Ingles?

Ingles Markets Inc. bought the old Coats North America property in Laurel Park for $6.6 million. Ingles Markets Inc. bought the old Coats North America property in Laurel Park for $6.6 million.

Q. I heard that Ingles bought the old Coats North America thread mill on U.S. 64 West in Laurel Park. Will they build a new grocery store there?

   Good question. Ingles Markets Inc. bought the old mill and its ten acres in June for $6.6 million. The tract, which lies directly across from the Laurel Park Village Shopping Center, is not technically in Laurel Park but falls in the Laurel Park ETJ, where the town exercises land-use control. Ingles would need approval for a zoning change from industrial to commercial before a food store could be built.

   It is widely speculated that Ingles would eventually close the store it has operated in the shopping center for some 37 years since it is by far the smallest of its eight stores in Henderson County. It is also believed that the grocery store chain may acquire the Laurel Park Shopping Center buildings along with its 15 some tenants. This is supported by remarks from those who have received notice of a pending change in ownership. If it owned the shopping center, Ingles could of course prevent a competitor from opening a grocery store. Neither Ingles nor the shopping center owners have responded to our request for comment.

   I suspect that the Ingles’ corporate thinkers in Black Mountain have carefully weighed all the issues and know where the minefields are. One is that the 1950s era thread mill would need an environmental cleanup. One estimate we heard was that razing the mill could cost $1.2 million. And there is the highway issue. The site presently has two entrances on U.S. 64, one with a traffic light. NCDOT has plans for three roundabouts along U.S. 64 West and the traffic light entrance will be eliminated. Access to the Pisgah Drive roundabout must first be granted by NCDOT. The old thread mill backs up to White Pine Drive but is separated by the Ecusta Trail corridor. Rear access to the site is not guaranteed.

   Finally, Ingles needs to decide whether to request annexation by Laurel Park, which could easily cost them $30,000 a year in taxes. As the Lightning previously reported, Ingles has submitted plans to build another store on property it acquired on U.S. 25 North at Butler Bridge Road. Regardless of who owns it, the aging Laurel Park Village Shopping Center will soon need maintenance and store renovations. Henderson County should benefit handsomely from the money the grocery giant will spend. Still, lots of questions but much time to sort it all out.

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Send questions to askmattm@gmail.com.