One year later, still no plans to redevelop Village Plaza Shopping Center after massive fire

Updated: Apr. 23, 2019 at 3:56 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Nearly one year after a massive fire destroyed the Village Plaza Shopping Center, no plans have been submitted to the city of Wilmington to redevelop the property.

The fire, which started at Everybody’s Grocery store, wiped out most of the plaza and left the low-income community without easy access to a grocery store.

An electrical failure caused the fire, and the entire plaza was torn down in Aug. 2018.

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According to New Hanover County records, Cameron Management purchased the property from the former owner in November.

A spokesperson for the city of Wilmington confirmed in an email that, “at this time, nothing has been submitted to the city for redevelopment on this site.”

WECT has reached out to Cameron Management for information about how they intend to develop the site, but our phone calls have not yet been returned.

The fire has left the south side of Wilmington, including public housing communities Houston Moore, Hillcrest, and Glover Plaza without easy access to fresh produce.

The Local Motive Mobile Farmer's Market brings fresh, local produce to public housing...
The Local Motive Mobile Farmer's Market brings fresh, local produce to public housing communities weekly. (Source: WECT)

Jordyn Appel, the community food access coordinator for Feast Down East, has been bringing the ‘Local Motive Mobile Farmers Market’ to those communities since January.

The mobile farmers market visits 10 different public housing neighborhoods weekly, and is the only farmers market in New Hanover County that accepts food stamps.

“I’m in three neighborhoods that are in the Everybody’s community. I’m at Hillcrest, Houston Moore, and Glover Plaza. Each of these neighborhoods since Everybody’s has burned down has expressed an increased need and desire of healthy foods,” Appel said.

Appel said that need for easily accessible groceries increased after Hurricane Florence, when the Family Dollar in the area was looted and closed for some time. That Family Dollar re-opened earlier this month.

"Individuals there struggle with access to transportation to get them to the grocery stores. The bus lines aren’t as equally distributed in that portion of the neighborhood,” Appel said.

With no current plans to build a grocery store in the area, and no word on how the former Everybody’s site will be redeveloped, residents will continue to face challenges in accessing fresh produce.

“We’re hoping that over the shorter period of time we’ll see a local, affordable grocery store go back into that community because it’s needed and it’s great that Family Dollar opened up and people can have minimal access to their grains, to baby formula if need be. But people need fruits and vegetables it nourishes our body and that’s what helps make us successful down the line,” Appel said.

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