After declining to comment on the future of the Sam’s Quik Shop property on Erwin Road, the owner of the property took to Facebook to post a lengthy response to the bottle shop’s customers.
On Tuesday, The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun reported that Wilmorite Construction of Rochester, N.Y., had submitted plans to the city for an 80-unit apartment building on the Sam’s Quik Shop property.
The construction company told The N&O that it had reached an agreement with John Boy, the owner of the 1.2-acre property, to buy the land for an undisclosed price. The news was met with much dismay from many of the bottle shop's customers.
Boy declined to comment on the project to The N&O.
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But in a post Wednesday on Sam’s Quik Shop’s Facebook page, Boy said that he did have offers on the table for the property, but didn’t have anything new to report, which is why he declined to comment on the story. He added that his parents taught him to consider "serious" offers on the property.
Repeated efforts to reach Boy by phone on Thursday were not immediately successful. Nor was a reporter's visit to the Quik Shop and to Sam's Bottle Shop on N.C. 54. Managers at each location said Boy was not there and both declined to comment.
"Dear customers, loyal friends that I consider family and patrons of Sam's Quik Shop and Sam's Bottle Shop thank you for your passion and support," Boy wrote. "I'm addressing of course the recent article on which I declined comment for good reason. My family has served this community for over 70 years and I'm here today to tell you that is NOT CHANGING.
"Our history is rich not just inside this building on Erwin Rd. but I hope as a brand. Do I have offers on my property of course I do, likewise many of my fellow local business owners experience this and we are all faced with questions that we weigh out for our families and business. My Mom and Dad had offers and taught me to consider the serious ones and you would too."
Boy then went on to write about the expansion of the Sam's brand to N.C. 54 in southern Durham, where Sam's Bottle Shop is located. That location is much larger than the older Quik Shop building.
Boy said that he built that location several years ago because of fears that the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail transit line would claim his Erwin Road property through eminent domain. Boy said that would have meant receiving a "fraction of what my property is worth let alone the business."
The proposed light rail line no longer plans to take over his entire property — just the northern edge of it along Pettigrew Street. Wilmorite said it has already been in contact with GoTriangle, and the plans it submitted to the city show how the apartment builder would accommodate the light rail line were it to be built.
"Of course I’ve spoken to real estate developers over the years and several recently, but I don’t have anything to report and I declined comment for that reason," Boy wrote. "Thank you for understanding and we are STILL HERE, selling beer and serving cheer!"
In response to a question about Boy's Facebook post, Jim McKenna, vice president of construction at Wilmorite Construction, said: "We are pleased that the Boy family has been given the opportunity to explain their situation and their ongoing commitment to the community. We really don’t have any other comments as Mr. Boy’s message does a nice job explaining his situation."
Sam's Quik Shop also posted on its Twitter Thursday a picture of the article appearing in The Herald-Sun print edition with a six-pack of Fake News New England India Pale Ales from Gizmo Brewworks on top of the paper.
Thursday evening on its Twitter account, the company apologized for its earlier Tweet and said, "Out of nearly 25,550 days open, today we missed the mark."
Boy's property — which is made up of four separate parcels — has an appraised value of $999,910, according to Durham County records.
The building's history goes back to 1946, when Carl Boy opened a gas station on the property, according to Sam's Bottle Shop's website. In 1949, the Boys opened up the Blue Light Restaurant on the property. The restaurant closed in 1974, when it was converted into a convenience store called Sam's Quik Shop, the company's website says.
Paul Wilmot, the president of Wilmorite Construction, told The N&O that his company had been interested in the property for nearly two years, and that the company wanted to put student-targeted apartments there. The building would also have 3,000 square feet set aside for retail, which could be a restaurant, Wilmot said.
Wilmorite has an extensive history of building residential buildings near or on university campuses, and Wilmot believes the property is ideally suited for graduate students and older undergraduates.
The property would also be near to a potential station for the light rail project, according to the plans.
“We are excited that it would be a stop for GoTriangle’s (light rail),” McKenna said. He added that the company has already been in discussion with GoTriangle around the proposed project.
Part of the light rail "concept is to build density around these stops, so it shows, at an early stage, that their concept is working,” McKenna said.
Wilmorite hopes to break ground on the project in March 2019 and complete it before school starts in fall 2020.