Greensboro, NC -- It's back to the drawing board on plans for a new grocery store in east Greensboro.
City officials tell WFMY News 2 that Save-A-Lot will not open a store in the Bessemer Center on Phillips Avenue.
A spokesperson for Save-A-Lot would not give a reason for the change of plans.
City Councilman Jim Kee tells News 2's Mark Geary that the city was informed by Save-A-Lot that the location is too close to an existing store on Yanceyville Street which is six minutes away.
After years of waiting for someone to move into the building, Save-A-Lot was going to save the day.
Now, some neighbors have a much different impression of the company they were cheering for just a few months ago.
Community member Mary Lou Clapp said, "Market studies are done all the time. They're a huge company. I don't understand why they did not do that before putting forth that...unless it was just for the publicity. Sometimes people do things just to get their name out there."
Community member Ralph Johnson said, "You're holding the neighborhood hostage. There could have been some other businesses or another grocery store that may have wanted to come into the area that was held up because of that letter of intent."
Save-A-Lot signed a letter of intent with the city back in October. That letter prevented discussions with other grocery stores. Developer Vernon Powell tells WFMY it's unusual for a company to sign a letter of intent and then walk away.
"I would say that people that sign a letter of intent generally do the transaction that they have indicated they wanted to do. However, I would like to note it is a non-binding letter of intent....I see the future of what it's going to look like when we finish. It will basically be a new shopping center. It will be very pedestrian friendly. We're doing a lot of landscaping. We're doing the parking lot."
City Council member Jim Kee added, "The city of Greensboro is committed to developing this shopping center and bringing in a grocery store. I know it's disappointing and it's been a long time, but it will happen. I know it will happen."
Save-A-Lot spokesperson Chon Tomlin told WFMY, "Save A Lot did not back out of a deal with the city. Unfortunately, there was some preliminary information that was released too early in the process...It is always our concern that our community will find out too early in the process because it's never our intent to let the community down by pulling out of a location. But, as with any business, we have to go through a specific process...I want to apologize to the community for any sort of miscommunication that may have happened as part of this process. However, the letter of intent is something all businesses do. It's part of the due diligence process. We had to sign that in order to start the process of evaluating a location."
News of a possible new store for this area first came out in early October. The city held off on a formal announcement at that time until all the paperwork and contracts were completed.
The grocery store was planned for a building that used to be the site of a Winn-Dixie. That store closed its doors in the late 90's.
The city bought the Bessemer Shopping Center in 2008. Right now, the Family Dollar Store is the only open business.
Map below pinpoints the grocery stores within a 3 mile radius of the Phillips Ave location, including the Yanceyville Sav-A-Lot
View North Greensboro Grocery Stores in a larger map
WFMY News 2