While I, Gerald Forsburg, expressed concern over the design, I also presented the Town Council and Planning Commission with solid public information showing that the Family Dollar Corporation was not a financially sound business, and warned that if the building were to be constructed, it would likely be sitting vacant within a year.
The Council did not want to hear it, stating that "a National Brand would not be expanding if it was not feasible", and that they could not operate on "hearsay", even though every major news outlet at the time was reporting what was considered "Hearsay". Of course, the underlying statement was "what could you possibly know about a National Chain?"
Recently, I have had many inquiries about what happened to the Family Dollar Store. I can't say with certainty whether Family Dollar has scrapped all plans to build in Mount Jackson or not (though one can only hope for the best), but what I can report is that the Associated Press reported earlier this month that Family Dollar is cutting jobs and closing 370 stores nationwide because "they were not financially solid"! Forbes reported on it too. (Really?!)
Moral of the story: Small Towns especially need to do their homework, maybe even listen to those who are giving them free advice. The stores likely to close will be in smaller towns, and the last thing small towns need are large vacant structures. A vacant structure in a large city can go unnoticed, but be sold rather quickly to the next national chain; not so in a small town, and they are much harder to sell.
Small Towns need to focus on improving their Historic Downtown cores. That's where the value is in a small town. It's not in hoping a National Chain Store will swoop in to provide jobs and gross amounts of expensive improvements. That's where locals and visitors alike want to be, and don't begrudgingly spend a dollar. Locals, especially, want to spend money to support the people they know - the people they go to church with, pass in the library, and live near. And the more we can keep every dollar "local", the better we do as a community. Supporting locally owned businesses means local Prosperity, local decision making, community well-being and product diversity. But we need to have local businesses. To do that, we need leaders who understand slow-growth and smart-growth dynamics and economics. Slow growth means a stronger economic viability that is more resilient than what can be provided by larger National Chains (think: "the bigger they are, the harder they fall.") Locally-owned businesses are also more likely to be more responsible within the community - they have more on the line than just their bottom line - they have their reputation among peers.
In just a few short years, with proper planning and incentives for locally-owned small businesses, we too could be on the Virginia is for Lovers "Best Small Towns" site! Mount Jackson has the bones for it. We don't need to change anything - just improve on what's already here.
(My personal prediction is that the Nation will likely see the chain go bankrupt in the next year or two, if not sooner, unless they change their business model drastically and quickly, and even then it may be too late.)
*I do wish the owner of the property, a local family, the best of luck selling it. It's a wonderful location and has much potential.