Three years after arriving on the local grocery scene, a New York-based supermarket chain on a steady expansion southward has picked Hanover County for a large-scale regional distribution facility.
Wegmans Food Markets is set to build a 1.1 million-square-foot facility on about 220 acres just east of Hanover County Municipal Airport, the governor’s office announced Wednesday. The property is bordered to the north by Ashcake Road and to the east by Sliding Hill Road.
The $175 million project would create 700 full-time jobs. Hanover and Virginia won the project over North Carolina, which also was in the running.
In a statement, Wegmans President and CEO Colleen Wegman said the Hanover site was selected for its proximity to the company’s stores and workforce. The facility is planned to deliver product to Wegmans’ southernmost stores and support further growth, the statement said.
The site consists of multiple parcels owned by Air Park Associates LP, an entity registered to Phillip Dean of Midlothian. A 217-acre tract that makes up the bulk of the property was purchased in 1986 for $202,000, according to county property records. The tract most recently was assessed by the county at $4.4 million.
The property was last zoned for manufacturing use in the mid-1990s. Air Park Associates is seeking to amend the zoning’s proffers to allow the distribution facility use. Its request is slated to go before the county Planning Commission in January or February.
Based in Rochester, Wegmans has 101 stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including two in the Richmond area: a 115,000-square-foot location at the Stonehenge Village shopping center on Midlothian Turnpike, and a 123,000-square-foot store in the West Broad Marketplace retail center in Short Pump.
The company opened the Midlothian store in May 2016, followed by the Short Pump location three months later. The moves added a new player to the Richmond region’s crowded grocery market, joining other recent arrivals such as Florida-based Publix and Germany-based brands Aldi and Lidl. Last year, Aldi opened a $57 million, 562,500-square-foot distribution facility in Dinwiddie County.
Wegmans’ southward march also has included two stores in Charlottesville. The company has a presence in a dozen locations across Virginia, in addition to stores in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Hanover County Economic Development and regional group Greater Richmond Partnership to land the project. Wegmans was wooed in part by $2.35 million in state incentives that Gov. Ralph Northam approved through a Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund grant. The company also is eligible for state job tax credit for the 700 jobs to be created.