Wegmans grocery store in Germantown could be open by 2012
A Wegmans store in Germantown would mean lower prices and more choices for consumers, according to developers working with the New York grocery chain.
But more than 60 residents have written to county officials objecting to the Wegmans proposal, and one competing chain has stated it would not build in Clarksburg if Wegmans comes to the upcounty, according to another developer.
A site plan for Wegmans was submitted to the county planning board in early June and the store is expected to open by 2012 at the earliest, Brad Chod, vice president of Minkoff Development Corporation in Germantown, told the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce on June 17.
The store would anchor the Shops at Seneca Meadows on 40 undeveloped acres at the north end of the 156-acre Seneca Meadows Corporate Center on Ridge Road east of Interstate 270, Minkoff vice president Andy Chod said.
The store, expected to have 120,000 to 150,000 square feet of space, has not been designed but could include a two-story parking garage, café, outdoor patio and conference rooms. The median size of groceries in 2008 was 46,755 square feet, according to the Food Marketing Institute's website.
Kathryn Kubit of Elm Street Development in McLean, Va., project manager for the planned Clarksburg Village development, wrote to the county council in May 2009 that a Wegmans in Germantown would be so popular it would prevent groceries from coming to Clarksburg, where there are no groceries.
Harris Teeter seriously had been considering opening a grocery in Clarksburg for two years but told Elm Street shortly after the Wegmans project was announced that it would call off its plans if the store is built in Germantown, Kubit said in the letter.
Harris Teeter executives also told the company other grocers would significantly delay plans to come to Clarksburg or avoid the community altogether, she said.
Andy and Brad Chod told chamber members Wegmans tends to stimulate competition among other groceries and that a Wegmans in Germantown likely would result in reduced prices and increased choices for shoppers.
"When Wegmans comes in it benefits consumers because prices are more competitive," Andy Chod said. "They're not in the business of putting stores out of business."
Some county residents travel as far as 40 miles to shop at the Wegmans in Sterling, Va., Brad Chod said.
"We have a lot of grocery stores in the county but we also have a lot of people in the county who are giving their grocery dollars to Virginia," he said.
There are 700,000 square feet of development on the site, spread out among 11 office buildings, and another 700,000 square feet will be developed, Andy Chod said. About 85,000 square feet of the new space will be retail, Brad Chod said, and half of the 156 acres will be green space, Andy Chod said.
"This is going to be a great, great asset for Germantown," Doug Wrenn, chairman elect of the chamber's board of directors, said at the meeting.
The state's first and only Wegmans opened in Hunt Valley in 2005, according to media relations director Jo Natale. New stores are expected to open in Landover in October and in Frederick in fall 2011, she said, and future locations include Bel Air, Columbia and Crofton.
"We are a destination for many folks so we can draw people from 10 miles [away], 25 or even 30, so we need good regional access," said Natale, who said the store could employ as many as 600 people. "All of these things came together in Germantown and we're really excited about coming to the area."
While working on the recently approved Germantown Employment Area Sector Plan, the Montgomery County Council received more than 130 letters from the public, split evenly between opponents and advocates, about the proposed Wegmans, according to council documents. Many opposition letters said big box stores should not be built in Germantown.