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Features Local ABC store may relocate

Franklin Town Aldermen have opened discussions of moving the ABC store to a different location to avoid paying a 10 percent increase. The increase would result in a monthly rent of more that $6,500.The local Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) board is facing some big changes both locally and statewide.

At a joint dinner meeting between the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen and ABC board members on Dec. 12, it was revealed that the property management firm of Macon Plaza may be raising the rent on the local ABC store in November of next year.

For the past 17 years, the store has been leasing space from the plaza. Prior to July 2006, when the Town of Franklin passed its mixed beverage ordinance, the store was only 3,200 square feet and paid approximately $3,000 a month. After the ordinance passed, the store expanded to 6,008 square feet. The rent was raised to $6,069.76 per month.

According to ABC store manager Todd Mason, with the economic downturn, Centro Properties Group (the firm responsible for managing the plaza) proposed raising the monthly rent by 10 percent last summer —an increase that would mean a monthly cost of approximately $6,676.76.

At last week’s meeting, board members considered relocating the store in order to avoid such high payments, by purchasing land and building a facility for a new store.

“That’s a lot of money,” remarked Vice Mayor Verlin Curtis. “It could be a better fit to build rather than to pay a large figure of rent.”

And while the ABC board must face the eventual dilemma of changing locations, the uncertain fate of the current ABC system throughout the state also looms, as legislators consider privatizing alcohol sales in North Carolina.

“It might be better to buy some land,” said Town Manager Sam Greenwood, echoing Curtis. “Everybody is unsure what the General Assembly is going to do, and if they decide to privatize, the boards would be dissolved.”

Aldermen unanimously voted to establish a board that would investigate the feasibility and cost effectiveness of purchasing land and building such a facility. Aldermen appointed Curtis, Farrell Jamison and Sam Greenwood to the board to represent the town, while Mason and Pat Pattillo were appointed to represent the ABC board.

But where would a town-owned ABC facility be located?

“The boards have agreed that the primary bypass areas from Sylva Road interchange to the Georgia Road interchange would be the best location,” explained Greenwood, stressing that nothing is set in stone. “The reason being visibility, access and growing traffic along that area.”

“It would be more cost effective to the Town of Franklin,” said Mason on Wednesday. “If we continue paying rent, they will get less profit.” He added that sales have been down over the last year.

The next board committee meeting will meet on Dec. 29. Greenwood said the board will have some recommendations for aldermen at their next meeting. “We’ve got a year time frame to get it done,” said Greenwood.

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