Rezoning OK’d for Harbor Freight Tools

By Tom Joyce -

Mount Airy will be getting another national retailer in the coming months, thanks to a rezoning decision by city officials.

It paves the way for Harbor Freight Tools to open a store at 1018 Rockford St., the former location of Creek Bottom Brewing, and before that, a Prime Sirloin restaurant. A church also is located at the rear of the property.

The plans call for the existing building at the 3.1-acre site to be demolished and a new structure of around 15,000 square feet to be erected in its place, according to city Planning Director Andy Goodall.

Goodall added Tuesday that there is no definite timetable for the Harbor Freight Tools store to be open.

“The project is in the engineering phase right now,” he explained. “We will probably be seeing plans for technical review within the next 45 days.”

Goodall expects to have more information in August.

Harbor Freight Tools, headquartered in Calabasas, California, is a privately held company founded in 1977 by a father and son. It now has hundreds of stores in 47 states. 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.

The laying of the groundwork for its outlet in Mount Airy required the rezoning of the land on Rockford Street — owned by Bray Properties of Mount Airy — from M-1 (Industrial), which doesn’t permit retail uses, to the B-2 (General Business) classification.

A request for this was approved unanimously by the city commissioners last Thursday night, after no one opposed the rezoning during a public hearing.

The Mount Airy Planning Board, an advisory group to the commissioners, also had given its approval for that move on June 25 in a 5-0 vote. No one spoke in opposition to the rezoning then, either.

Officials say the new B-2 zoning for the Rockford Street location is consistent with surrounding land uses.

Historic group members re-upped

Also Thursday night, the city commissioners reappointed three members to the Mount Airy Historic Preservation Commission.

Bobbie Collins, Amanda Yarboro and Shelby King were each approved for a new three-year term that will expire on June 30, 2021.

The Historic Preservation Commission is a nine-member citizen board appointed by the commissioners, whose members must be qualified based on interest or experience in history, architecture, archaeology or related fields.

It advises the commissioners on historic landmark and property designations and functions as a design review board for proposed changes to the exterior of such properties and structures.

By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.