Dollar General, Jiffy Mart could go head-to-head on construction

By Cynthia Prairie and
Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Gird yourself Chester. If all goes as stated, heavy equipment will descend on Main Street as two large construction projects – within spitting distance of each other – begin in mid-April.

After an unexplained delay, the developer the Zaremba Group is expected to start construction on a 9,100-square-foot building for Chester’s Main Street in the “next few weeks,” according to Dan MacDonald, a spokesman for Dollar General, which is slated to purchase and manage the store upon its completion.

Separate developers are expected to start on two nearby projects at the same time. Click map to enlarge.

Construction is expected to start on the Dollar General and Jiffy Mart buildings, which are near to each other, at the same time. Map indicates property and projects, not size of buildings.
Click map to enlarge.

But first, land must be prepared, and that, MacDonald said, will likely take longer than other Dollar General projects. There is “more work to be done getting the site prepared,” he said in an interview on Monday. MacDonald added that he expects there to be a two-week “soft opening” in late August followed by the grand opening either the first or second Saturday in September.

Chester Zoning Administrator Michael Normyle told The Telegraph that recent communication with Zaremba points to a construction start on April 11 with site work that includes erosion control, preparing swales and a retention pond for a stormwater containment.

Back in September of last year, MacDonald had said he expected construction to begin that fall with the store opening in early 2016. On Monday, he said he did not know what was causing the delay.

Champlain Oil secures building permit

The second project — a new Jiffy Mart complex slated for the corner of Main and Pleasant streets — has received its building permit from the Town of Chester and is ready to start construction,  Champlain Oil’s Matt Wamsganz said.

As the dismantling of the Burbank house continues, Champlain Oil must post its permit for 15 days, after which it can begin construction. Wamsganz anticipates that construction will begin in mid-April with an opening projected for late August.

The 4,980-square-foot building will include the fuel station, consisting of eight gas pumps and two diesel pumps, a convenience store and two restaurants — a Subway and a Ramunto’s Pizza Express. The convenience store and food outlets will share a 23-seat common area. According to Wamsganz, 13 people are currently employed at the Jiffy Mart and the company estimates that the new store will employ about 25.

Wamsganz told The Telegraph that all but one of the companies doing work on the building are from Vermont. The other is from Massachusetts. That firm constructs the canopies above the pumps and there are no Vermont companies who do that. For the five months of construction, Wamsganz predicts an uptick in business for Chester businesses like the Country Girl Diner and Sandri Sunoco. While most crews will return to their homes after work, Wamsganz said that Champlain Oil workers will be staying in town on weeknights.

When the new Jiffy Mart is opened, crews will turn their attention to preparing the old store for sale. According to Wamsganz, the underground tanks and canopy will be removed. Depending on who is interested in buying the building, some fixtures may remain. “If a florist bought it, I’m sure they would want the coolers. Someone else might not,” he said.

Wamsganz said that the deed for the property would prohibit that site ever being used as a gas station in the future, but he did not believe that there would be a similar prohibition on a convenience store.

As reported in The Telegraph last week, the Sandri Cos., which own the Sunoco station and Vermont State Liquor Outlet across the road from the new construction, has begun exploring the possibility of buying a piece of town land between their building and the Middle Branch of the Williams River to use to install a Dunkin Donuts drive through window. That proposal is in its early stages and is not expected to affect this summer’s construction.

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  1. Deborah Velto says:

    This is the saddest news I have heard yet. I feel for the local business that will suffer from this decision. What a way to ruin this pretty little town. You can be sure no one will be filming any quaint Vermont movies at the Dollar General. Might as well be Rutland or Barre now.

  2. jo richardson says:

    There goes our cute little old-fashioned town. What next, skyscrapers? Traffic lights? WalMart?
    I hate seeing this town changed so drastically, but I guess the people have spoken.