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GREENSBORO, N.C. — A franchise grocery store is in the works for the southeastern portion of Greensboro.

A local developer, S&S Capital Inc., received an urban development grant and a loan from the city to build a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in the Freeman Mill Shopping Plaza.

The majority of the storefronts in the plaza have remained empty and some parts have even been considered condemned for some time now.

“My partners and I picked up this shopping center a couple of years ago with the whole intention was to redevelop this corner of Greensboro,” said Shahzad Akbar, with S&S Capital Inc.

Akbar attended the city’s virtual council meeting Tuesday night when they approved the resolution to provide the funds to start this project. Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, of District 1, has also been a part of this process to bring a viable grocery store to this area of town. It’s considered a food desert with not a lot of grocery options within miles of the residential area.

“The district absolutely needs it and I appreciate Mr. Akbar and them hearing our concerns,” Hightower said.

The Piggly Wiggly will be a 13,000-square-foot building and the company will have to reconstruct the front of the plaza to fit its needs. This will bring a combination of 22 full-time and part-time positions.

“There was a dilemma that the Publix came on the west side, you have Trader Joe’s and all of the other, but nothing was happening on the east side and she’s been a big champion of Greensboro. She wants to bring Panera Bread, she wants to bring healthy businesses to the east side of Greensboro,” said Akbar, of Hightower.

Akbar told FOX8 this process was two years long and they sought out the community’s input on the type of grocery store they wanted to see in their community. Those who frequent the area say they will patronize the business.

“I think it’s a good move, and we’ve been waiting on it,” said James Butler Sr., and others agreed too, like Marcus Corey. “I do believe that with the Piggly Wiggly everyone will get their bang for their buck.”

S&S Capital Inc. will also put in $900,000 to go towards this building renovation and the store. They say this is a great private-public partnership they hope will sustain. 

“One message to the community I want to give, I want them to take the ownership of this shopping center. We’re doing this for them and they’re only going to be the ones that will make it successful,” Akbar said.

Piggly Wiggly will open in April 2021.