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Wegmans Locates in Sterling

The Wal-Mart building will be torn down after a year of sitting empty at the intersection of Route 28 and Waxpool Road, replaced with a new building constructed by East Coast company Wegmans Food Market, as announced at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

“We’re delighted to get rid of that building and to put in something with quality,” said Supervisor Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge). “A lot of folks are willing to pay for quality. We’re giving them more choices.”

The new 130,000-square-feet building will be sizable enough to house a multi-faceted supermarket complete with a pharmacy, a market café, a bakery, prepared foods and gourmet food products.

The building will take on the appearance of a European open-air market with wide aisles and displays of different food items, such as produce, bread baked that day, meats and deli products. The outside of the building will be brick and stucco with a clock tower.

“Once we get into a community … we become almost a tourist attraction,” said Carol Duquette, manager of the engineering department for Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. at the Rochester, N.Y. headquarters.

A SUPERVISOR was concerned about the company’s decision to locate in Sterling. “There are three large supermarkets up the road. One of them is struggling,” said Supervisor Chuck Harris (D-Broad Run), asking for information on the impact Wegmans will have on the existing stores.

“You have a market leader showing up. Supermarket chains not providing quality will have to,” said Larry Rosenstrauch, director of the Department of Economic Development. “We do not go looking one way or another to encourage that market.”

Wegmans plans to establish relationships with local growers to provide local produce at the store and to involve the community, Duquette said.

“The other supermarkets don’t support our local economy,” said Chairman Scott York (R-At Large).

Rosenstrauch agreed. “I think the rural economy is going to connect with the tourism economy,” he said.

Wegmans seeks to obtain a building permit by August and begin construction in September, opening the supermarket in late 2003 or early 2004. The company may add another 20,000 square feet to the building if a full-service restaurant proves successful at an experimental store.

THE WEGMANS founded Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. in 1916 as a produce store in Rochester, N.Y. that expanded into a 62-store chain in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Danny Wegman is president of the privately owned company, which employs more than 31,000 employees. Wegmans plans to hire 400 to 500 people at the Sterling store, which does not have set store hours yet.

The Sterling store will be serviced by the Rochester distribution center until another center is built. Wegmans Food Market is considering expanding into Maryland, Duquette said.