No sale, Palisade tells Dollar General

Palisade resident Penny Bennett, second from right, and the rest of an upset audience react as Bob Gage, a vice president of GBT Realty Corp., describes Dollar General’s plans for a new store during a public meeting Wednesday at the Palisade Veterans Memorial Community Center.

The first audience comment of the night set the tone Wednesday at a public meeting hosted by GBT Realty Corp., a Tennessee company seeking a permit to develop a Dollar General store in Palisade.

Shortly after the meeting began at 6 p.m. inside the Palisade Veterans Memorial Community Center, Bob Gage, vice president of net lease development for GBT Corp., asked if any of the 28 people in attendance came to the meeting in support of the store.

“Hell no,” a woman bellowed from the back row of folding chairs.

Other sentiments hurled at Gage during the 45-minute meeting included “You’re not welcome here,” “I don’t think your business will succeed,” and “It’s all trash,” a comment referencing the merchandise carried by Dollar General.

Gage told the audience the Dollar General proposed for a swath of land behind Palisade Pharmacy on 37 3/10 Road has nearly $100,000 of landscaping and design details not included in the typical Dollar General store, most of which are built as solid metal structures. The 9,000 square foot store in Palisade would have a brick facade, Gage said, and employ 12 to 15 people.

Audience members argued the building wouldn’t fit in with nearby Victorian architecture and some worried a Dollar General would force other stores out of business. Gage said he has not seen that happen in other communities over the last two years, but said Dollar General’s corporate office does not track that information. Kim Henderson, owner of Lupita’s Bizarre Bazaar in Palisade, told Gage she worries Dollar General will set a precedent that opens a door to a variety of big box stores and fast food restaurants.

“Part of the reason I opened a business here was because Dollar General wasn’t here,” she said.

Dollar General proposed opening a store north of the railroad tracks in downtown Palisade last year. Another real estate development firm, Franklin Land Associates, LLC, withdrew that proposal last May, supposedly because cost projections didn’t meet original estimates. The only thing that has changed between now and that time, Gage said, is that GBT found a new site with retail zoning.

Gage said he is in town to get a permit for a retail building and get through the town’s planning process, which will include more public meetings. Construction of a Dollar General in Palisade may begin as early as one week after that permit is approved, he said.

“This is a big spot for (Dollar General). They want Palisade more than you know,” Gage said. “They feel the majority of the community wants this.”

Palisade resident Bree Morris disagreed. Following the meeting, she said she was shocked Dollar General decided to make a second attempt at moving to town.

“We really hate the idea of a Dollar General and we want to keep it out of our community,” she said.

Lane Cook, who has lived in Palisade for seven years, said she wants to maintain Palisade’s quaint, country feel. She said Palisade may not be affluent, but its residents can take care of themselves with locally-owned stores.

“They’re making tons of money” she said of Dollar General. “They can leave us alone.”


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