Shopping Center Proposal
Abingdon, VA’s, K-VA-T Foods, Inc., operates the region’s Food City chain of supermarkets. The present Abingdon Food City store is in the existing Town Centre Shopping plaza near I 81’s Exit 17. K-VA-T proposes to vacate that store and to build a 61,000-square-foot facility as the anchor for a 30-acre new shopping center on The Meadows farm, a development anticipated to include two hotels, several restaurants, and other retail stores.
On December 7, 2015, the Town Council approved rezoning this property from agricultural to general business, to allow the development. Following the Town’s rezoning of the K-VA-T property, that corporation donated to the Town 2.28 million dollars to purchase the adjacent 40.74 acres for a proposed Town-owned regional sports complex. Even before the rezoning, the Council had approved a special-use permit to allow the anticipated oversized Food City store to exceed the 50,000-square-foot Abingdon legal limit for store size.
The Town claims that the new development would “create jobs” but has failed to demonstrate any unemployment in Abingdon or to define the types and numbers of jobs anticipated and has neglected to acknowledge that competition from the new shopping center would certainly cause some existing businesses to fail, with consequent losses of jobs, perhaps even threatening the commercial viability of the now-vibrant historic downtown. Further, the development would involve removal of 80 feet of earth and rock off a hill on the property and deposition of that spoil onto the acreage acquired by the Town. The drainage implications are unknown.
Should the Planning Commission not approve the shopping-center design and/or should the Town fail to meet a number of contractual conditions—including a burdensome $7.5-million bond issue for infrastructure—the K-VA-T can buy the Town’s $2-million-plus parcel for ten dollars. Before the rezoning was approved, FOA circulated a petition against the action, which obtained nearly 900 signatures from town residents and over 3,000 from visitors from far and wide. (Note that in the most-recent Town Council election, no winning candidate received over 350 votes.)