Harris Teeter may delay distribution center

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Is the reported front runner in a Ukrop's sale still interested? That's the buzz today, after a new report reveals North Carolina grocery store giant Harris Teeter may delay a $100 million construction project in King George County.

Harris Teeter's parent company released this quarterly report this week, which makes no mention of any plans for Central Virginia. In fact, it even backs away from a project that fueled many of the sale rumors.

King George County is the gateway to the Northern Neck and it's still planning to be the hub for Harris Teeter in Virginia. The company is planning to build a $101 million food distribution center in a cornfield. It would create 335 jobs.

"That alone is a tremendous economic boom for the county. As well as the region," said Nicole Thompson.

But the latest quarterly report from Harris Teeter's parent company, Ruddick Corporation, alludes to delaying construction and says it's still exploring other options.

"We believe that it is coming. We haven't heard otherwise. We're working with Harris Teeter and they're doing their due diligence," said Thompson.

VCU Marketing Professor David Urban has been following the Ukrop's sale rumors closely. He says Harris Teeter may just be holding its cards close to the vest.

"The fact that they are delaying to me could be just trying to get the best possible deal they can. In a commercial real estate market that is pretty tough right now," said Urban.

The quarterly report also lays out Harris Teeter's plans to expand in D.C., Northern Virginia and southern Maryland with no mention of Richmond or Central Virginia.

"If they were planning to do something big they might not want to broadcast it at this juncture," said Urban.

Urban suggests there may also be other suitors for Ukrop's that we don't know about. Ukrop's role in the community was evident today at the opening of Ukrop Park in Chesterfield County.

"There is no news; I'm the wrong guy to ask anyway. Again, this happens it seems like every year," said Rob Ukrop.

His father, and the store's CEO, Bobby Ukrop, was on hand, but declined to comment.  Rob says, no matter what happens the family isn't going anywhere.

"We love Richmond. We've always been here and we'll always be here," said Rob.

Harris Teeter has until September to fully disclose its plans for the distribution center in King George County.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.