ABC Store falls victim to new highway

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012

EURE – The price of improvement comes with its share of casualties.

With the groundwork now being laid to widen US 13/158 from Winton to Tarheel Barbecue, Gates County’s oldest ABC Store is among the homes and businesses along this highway forced from its foundation.

However, unless there’s a last-minute reprieve, there are no plans to reopen the store at a new location.

According to George Kittrell, Chairman of the Gates County ABC Board, that organization did not reach agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation on sale price for that piece of property and building.

“For that reason, we’ll close that store at end of business on Saturday (Aug. 25),” Kittrell said. “They (DOT) are demanding the keys to the store on Aug. 31; it will take a week to clean it out.”

Kittrell said DOT made an offer of $206,000 for the property.

“Our cost to replace that store is $370,000, which includes the land,” Kittrell stated. “We would like nothing better than to build a new store there, but the offer from DOT is not what we need to make that happen.”

Kittrell said he and the board did not disagree with DOT’s appraisal of the property.

“The sad fact of the matter is what it costs today to replace an ABC store,” Kittrell said. “That store was built back in the 1960’s, long before there was a requirement to have an architect involved or meet federal mandates on handicapped accessibility.

“That store was one that offered counter sales,” he continued. “Today, the State ABC Board prefers counties to construct walk-in (self-service) stores. The State Board can’t tell you what type of store to build, but they have to approve it and they don’t approve counter sales stores anymore.”

The Gates County ABC Board was forced two years ago to rebuild its other store located on NC 32 in the eastern end of the county after a bizarre traffic accident there destroyed the building. A new self-service store there came with a $370,000 price tag, Kittrell said.

“We used all we had in our fund balance to build that particular store; we don’t have enough funds now to make up the difference in what DOT is offering and the actual cost to build a new store on US 13/158,” Kittrell noted. “The board feels the citizens of our county voted years ago to have these stores and we’re doing what we can to do that. DOT just needs to come up with a better offer.”

Two part-time employees will be affected by the closing.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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