Publix Super Markets announced Wednesday that the popular grocery store chain has finalized a lease to build its first Durham store.
The grocery store would join the proposed 30-acre North River Village development in northern Durham, in the southeast corner of Guess Road and Latta Road.
The project requires a rezoning. If the zoning goes through and the development is approved, the grocery store would be completed in 2018.
The store would occupy about 45,000 square feet and employ more than 100 people, said Publix spokeswoman Kim Reynolds. It is unclear how many of those jobs would be part-time or full-time positions. The company plans to hold a job fair in the area to help fill some of the jobs.
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The Florida-based chain has seen large growth in North Carolina.
Publix has three stores in the Triangle – Cary, Morrisville and Wake Forest. In addition to the Durham location, the chain has three new stores planned for the Triangle: in Raleigh, Apex and a second store in Cary.
Reynolds said Publix is still exploring potential sites in the Triangle and wouldn’t say whether the company was looking to build more stores in Durham.
The Publix announcement comes more than a year after the Florida-based Halvorsen Development Corp. revealed plans for the North River Village development. Those plans called for Publix to be the anchor tenant of the mixed-used development, which would include single-family homes, townhomes and retail.
The development would require rezoning about 30 acres near the Eno River and Easley Elementary School for residential and retail development, something that caused concerns about traffic and property values for some nearby residents.
Attorney Patrick Byker of Morningstar Law Group, who has worked with the development group on zoning issues, said the project hasn’t changed dramatically since it was announced in 2015 but added Publix was critical to it getting off the ground.
“It’s no different from what our team said in the beginning,” he said. “If Publix elects not to build (at North River Village), then the development won’t be built.”
Byker said Halvorsen considered 40,000 people near the proposed development underserved in regard to grocery stores.
The development group is also in talks with some restaurant tenants about locating at North River Village, and those conversations are likely to speed up with the announcement of Publix, Byker said.
The North River Village developer has pledged $2.1 million in transportation improvements to Latta Road as part of the project to assuage concerns about increases in traffic.
At the earliest, the North River Village rezoning issue will come before the Durham Planning Commission in the first quarter of 2017, Byker said.