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OP-ED: From the editor: And we are waiting…

Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

Taking a quick tour of the locations available for rent via the Phelan Investments website shows it is not updated as one location lays claims to “Other tenants include Chili’s, Carl’s Jr., & Quizno’s.” Problem with that is that Carl’s Jr. and Quizno’s are no longer located there and have not in over a year. The picture on the website features two other businesses no longer located at that location.

At least the company has an Orange location listed on its website which is more than it once had.

The investment company had promised to landscape the parking lot of its McArthur Drive location where Stage/Beall’s once occupied. The promise came after trees planted by Keep Orange County Beautiful had been cut down. The company did pick up a copy of landscaping ordinances from the City of Pinehurst. However, we still wait for the landscaping project to begin. I would say it will start next year, but I have said that for several years now.

The shopping center does have empty spots available for rent. Not that one can find that location on the website.

But a concern for potential tenants maybe the sign in front of what is now the former location of Luigi. The restaurant received substantial damage during Hurricane Laura and was not receiving assistance from the owners to recover so the beloved Italian restaurant could reopen. Fortunately for the owner of the restaurant, another eatery closed and Luigi’s reopened within eye sight of its former location.

We waited a decade for the investment company to market our area.

The chambers, the CVB, the Orange County Economic Development Corporation, the City of Orange Economic Development, and even the Lions Club all support and help market the area. One result of the hard work is the return of the Bassmasters tournament.

We will have thousands of people in the area for the tournament in April and instead of seeing all the progress we are making towards making Orange a better place to live, work and play, they will see these same buildings empty and/or damaged.

We can hear the excuses of well there was COVID, two hurricanes and a winter storm. What was the excuse before that?

Business owners have spoken about the difficulty in renting a space in the locations under Phelan Investments management. Some have found it so difficult that they opened locations in other cities. Successfully opened the business and in some cases have since expanded.

Towns are about the unique small businesses they have to offer. From where I am sitting, I am not seeing an encouragement of those ‘Mom and Pop’ shops which means less sales tax revenue for towns where those properties are sitting.

So, Phelan Investments, how much longer must we wait?

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com