The newspaper says the family-owned company, headquartered in Rochester, New York, is eying a site on a 90-acre tract north of the mall. The land is owned by Columbia Development Group LLC, a Columbia, South Carolina-based shopping center developer.
“We have signed a letter of intent and are working through lease negotiations with Columbia Development Group, with hopes of reaching a final lease agreement sometime during the first quarter of 2016,” Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale told the paper this week in an email.
Columbia Development Group has submitted preliminary plans to the town that include thousands of square feet of retail, restaurant and office space, plus some residential, structured parking and potentially a 130-room hotel. The company has contracted to buy the land from the state for $21.15 million.
Wegmans currently operates stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.
If it enters North Carolina, Wegmans will find a crowded grocery market—including the likes of North Carolina-based mainstays such as Harris Teeter, owned by The Kroger Co., and Ingles. It also is home to other traditional supermarkets, independent stores, numerous specialty and organic chains and other players—most recently Publix Super Markets, the southeastern powerhouse that is consistently ranked among the region’s favorite grocers. Additionally, European retailer Lidl, often compared to discount chain Aldi, is set to enter the state.