Waynesville shoppers will have another grocery store choice in early 2019 when Publix off Russ Avenue is expected to open.
John Argo is a partner and lead developer in the project, which is a joint venture between Australian-based MAB Corporation and IRC, which operates more than 150 retail centers.
“We anticipate having the store open in the first quarter of next year,” said Argo of Publix. The retail stores are not yet firmed up, but have “several prospects for every space,” he added.
“Right now, we’ve got the store in the dry and powered up. The store is our priority, and I’d say it’s 90 percent done on the exterior and 50 percent done on the interior.”
The project is on schedule, but is still very much weather- dependent.
“The opening pivots on whether we can get the paving completed before the asphalt plants shut down,” he said.
Early projections were to open in January, but with the unseasonably rainy weather — one of the wettest springs in the region’s history — the opening might have to be pushed back until asphalt plants can be fired up after the cold has passed.
“Rain and construction don’t synchronize very well,” Argo said. “We have good people on the ground, good people to work with on the town, good contractors and good regulatory personnel that let this move forward as best as it can.”
Storefronts in the six-unit retail building, which will be to motorists’ right as they enter the plaza from Russ Avenue, are in the pre-leasing phase now, with the Bell Moore group based in Charlotte, serving at the leasing agent.
“Activity has amped up in last 30 days,” Argo said. “Once you actually have a building, prospects get excited and focused on where their business will be located. We have prospects for every space and one in lease negotiation.”
“On behalf of the merchants, we’re looking for a prosperous 2019 and a grand opening in the first quarter of 2019,” he said. “We encourage everyone to come try them out.”
It is projected that once the center is open, the 49,000- square-foot Publix will employ 140.