Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina will officially open its newest retail store tomorrow, ushering in a new era of redevelopment and community partnerships for the agency.
The 11,000-square-foot building – built to the highest energy conservation standards – is located at 528 Waughtown Street. It sits adjacent to the old Goodwill store, which will be torn down to make room for new development in the coming weeks, explained Goodwill CEO Art Gibel.
“We’ve had that store on Waughtown for decades. It’s old. It does great business for us but it’s highly inefficient because of the age of the building and the lack of parking around,” Gibel said. “We just jumped at the opportunity to be able to buy that property to build a new store.”
Goodwill has big plans for the 4.5 acres. The agency will oversee a second phase of construction at 514 Waughtown St., the site of the original Goodwill store, that will include erecting a new Prosperity Center South. In collaboration with Financial Pathways (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Forsyth County), Goodwill helps individuals achieve financial stability through job search assistance, wealth building and a variety of classes and workshops through the Prosperity Center model. There is already a site, Prosperity Center North, on Liberty Street.
Currently, Prosperity Center South is housed at the McLean Trucking building at 585 Waughtown St. The new location will enhance visibility and foot traffic for the Center and will include additional space for one to three retailers or restaurants, depending on size, Gibel said.
“We’ve built plenty of stores, but this is a first,” Gibel said of the redevelopment effort. “We really expect significant benefits from the (community) side with Prosperity Center being at street level and very visible – those benefits are going to be clear.”
Nate Williams, who currently serves as a district manager for Goodwill, will serve as campus manager, overseeing the Waughtown Street project. He believes the new store, which is flanked by carefully placed trees and shrubs and a winding sidewalk, will be a bright spot in the Waughtown Street area.
“The building is beautiful,” said Williams, who started his career at Goodwill in 1992. “The paving is going to be beautiful, but the landscaping for me is what makes this area look a little like an oasis in a sense. “I just think it enhances and improves the whole area as we go down into the Gateway area. I just think it’ll be a great thing for the community.”
The unofficial partners in the project are residents of Waughtown Street and the surrounding area, who have faithfully donated to and patronized the original store for decades, Williams said.
“We’ve been a part of the community for almost 50 years. All of the investment that this community has put into that particular store, is now being returned. Now it’s turning back around, coming right back to this community,” remarked the grandfather of two. “Because they have made such an investment in us, we now can invest back into this community.”
City Council Member James Taylor, who represents the area, said Goodwill’s investment is an important component in an ongoing effort to bring development and jobs to the area. Other projects that are currently underway or new to the Southeast Ward include the redevelopment of Southeast Plaza Shopping Center (formerly King’s Plaza) and the construction of a new Dollar General store, Taylor said.
“Anybody who lives in the area has definitely and will continue to see the changes,” he remarked. “…We’re redeveloping our commercial area and I believe it will propel us into prosperity in the future.”
Taylor, a lifelong resident of the ward, added that the investment of organizations like Goodwill are proof positive that things are looking up for residents of the area.
“ We are not only developing areas, but we’re building new construction,” he said. “ It means that our ward is re-surging – it’s coming back alive.”
Gibel said Goodwill’s development represents the agency’s larger commitment to supporting development and revitalization efforts in the Waughtown Street area. The project is the first of its kind for Goodwill.
“It sends a clear signal to the community that Goodwill cares about the community and is willing to invest in it in a tangible way,” Gibel said. “…I’m hoping that when people see someone’s willing to invest in that area that somebody else comes in and builds around the area and it is kind of an initiative starter for the area.”
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new store will be held tomorrow (Friday, June 28) at 8 a.m. The new store will open for business immediately after the ceremony. For more information, visit www.goodwillnwnc.org or call 336-724-3621.