A groundbreaking ceremony was recently held at what will be the site of Craven County's newest ABC retail store.
The ceremony was held July 25 at U.S. 17 and E. Bridge St. in Bridgeton where a new retail store, warehouse, liquor by the drink store and administrative offices will be located.
The retail store will be 5000 square feet and the warehouse which includes the administrative offices will be 29,000 square feet.
Craven County Commissioner and Craven County ABC Board Vice Chairman Denny Boucher said the project did not happen overnight.
"It's been a long time coming," Boucher said. "We think it's going to be a home run."
The new location is designed by MBF Architects of New Bern, and it will be one of the most modern ABC stores and warehouse campuses in the state. The ABC Board recently awarded a $5.316M construction contract award to Farrier and Sons Inc, Farmville to build the facility.
Michael Harris, dean of ECU College of Business who was present for the event said he was very happy to be partnering with Craven County.
Under Harris' leadership, while serving as director of ECU's Millers School of Entrepreneurship prior to his new role, his students did a study on where to build stores in Craven County.
"We looked at the industry research, analyzed a lot of information, developed good recommendations that fit the region, looked at the budget and the implementation for it," Harris said. "It was very thorough and comprehensive. I'm very proud of the students."
The study earned awards for the class for developing the best plan for economic development and their research was pivotal in the plans for this new location.
“We have worked on this effort closely for over four years with our Craven County Board of Commissioners and Town of Bridgeton officials," said Craven County ABC Board Chairman Chip Chagnon in a press release. "Hurricane Florence and COVID-19 slowed us down, but we are on the move now and plan for an August 2023 opening."
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In March 2022, the board celebrated the grand re-opening expansion and modernization of the county's oldest ABC store at 318 S. Front St. The store opened in 1935 and was originally located across from City Hall. Renovations included brand new shelving, coolers for pre-made, canned cocktails and liquors that are meant to be chilled and an upgraded hardware and software system that has been installed at the other locations in the county. In April 2021, the board celebrated the expansion and modernization of the James City ABC store.
Following the groundbreaking, N.C. ABC Commission Chairman Hank Bauer, who served as keynote speaker, with Deputy Chairman Mike DiSilva planned to visit several of the Craven County ABC stores to observe some of the most state-of-the-art stores in North Carolina.
"They're very progressive down here," Bauer said. "When they talk about compared to Mecklenburg County that did $228 million this year in business, what they're doing is at that level as far as merchandising, great looking stores, building facilities for the future. It's only going to benefit the community here."
General Manager Paul Brown said the Craven County ABC Board has implemented many new cutting-edge ABC store initiatives that are serving as a model for other NC ABC stores.
"Our great employees and staff are looking forward to showcasing many of these innovations to Chairman Bauer," he said, according to a press release.
In 2021, Craven County's ABC Board distributed $114,499 to Law Enforcement, $85,588 to Alcohol Education and $1,433,828 to local government totaling more than $1.6 million dollars according to the NC ABC Commission.
Currently, Craven County has six ABC store locations with the addition of the new liquor by the drink store at the warehouse at 3943 Martin Dr.
For more information contact Chip Chagnon, at 252-259-7661
This article originally appeared on Sun Journal: Groundbreaking held for new Craven County ABC Board campus