A rumored Walmart in northern Chatham County just past the Orange line remains just that.
Despite a preliminary site plan submitted last summer, the mega retailer has yet to submit an official development application, say county leaders. “It’s not official at all,” said Dianne Reid, the Chatham County economic development director. “This is a small county. It doesn’t take much for a rumor to get legs and start walking around.”
A possible Walmart off U.S. 15-501 south of Chapel Hill has long concerned Orange County leaders, who feared the traffic it would bring and in some cases didn’t like the retailer’s business practices. Now, some worry a Walmart could kill plans for the Obey’s Creek mixed-use project proposed across from Southern Village.
The potential Walmart site is located on 20 acres of a 62-acre tract owned by Lee Moore Oil Corp. The parcel has a tax value of nearly $3.1 million, according to Chatham County land records.
Dwight Bassett, the town of Chapel Hill’s economic development director, and Aaron Nelson, the CEO and president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said they’d heard a lease had been signed for the property, but neither was able to confirm.
Chatham County Planning Director Jason Sullivan could not confirm it either and referred questions about a lease to Pittsboro attorney Patrick Bradshaw, who did not return a phone call last week.
And Walmart won’t say.
“We don’t comment on speculation and don’t have anything to announce at this time,” company spokesman Bill Wertz said Wednesday.
Officially, Sullivan said, all Chatham County has received is an informal site plan that shows a 152,198 square-foot building and 573 parking spaces.
The site has the zoning a Walmart would need, but developers would need to get a zoning compliance permit and final site plan approval from staff and the appearance commission, among other measures.
“If negotiations work out there may be a Walmart there,” Sullivan said. “At this point we have no actual submission.”
Read more on this story coming Sunday in The Chapel Hill News.