The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners has taken action that could lead to a discount tool and equipment retailer opening a store in the city.
A 3.1-acre site at 1018 Rockford St. is being eyed for a local outlet of Harbor Freight Tools. That is the former location of Creek Bottom Brewing, a restaurant and microbrewery business which closed in December. Before that, a Prime Sirloin/Western Steer restaurant operated for 30 years at the spot, which is near Rockford Street’s intersection with U.S. 52.
An entity known as Permit Advisors, located in Beverly Hills, California, has filed an application with the city government on behalf of Harbor Freight Tools to facilitate the latter’s presence in Mount Airy.
The application relates to the fact that the property on Rockford Street must be rezoned before the local store can open.
“The current M-1 (Industrial) zoning does not permit retail uses, so they’ve requested the change to allow for retail,” city Planning Director Andy Goodall explained Friday regarding Permit Advisors’ request.
Mount Airy officials have been asked to rezone the site to B-2 (General Business).
During a meeting Thursday night, the city board voted to set a public hearing on the request for its meeting on July 19, which is required before the zoning can be changed.
The Rockford Street site eyed for the Harbor Freight Tools store, which includes the vacant restaurant/brewery at the front of the parcel and a church to the rear, is owned by Bray Properties LLC of Mount Airy. In 2016, the city commissioners voted to allow microbrewery operations in various zoning districts in town, including M-1, the present classification for the Rockford Street property.
Before the public hearing next month, the Mount Airy Planning Board — an advisory group to the commissioners — is scheduled to review the rezoning proposal during a meeting Monday and make a formal recommendation to them.
Harbor Freight Tools, headquartered in Calabasas, California, is a privately held company that was founded in 1977 by a father and son, according to Internet business information sources. It presently has more than 800 stores in 47 states, including a location on Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem. In addition to a chain of retail outlets, Harbor Freight Tools operates a mail-order and eCommerce business.
The company launched its first retail store in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1980, selling returned merchandise from its mail-order segment. That business model proved successful and led to other stores opening throughout the U.S.
Since 2012, Harbor Freight Tools has been in a growth mode accompanied by its number of stores rising from about 300 to more than 800.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.