RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Residents of the Stratford Hills neighborhood in Richmond lined Stratford Hills Shopping Center on Saturday, Nov. 19, to protest a new Sheetz gas station and convenience store.
Anna Medinger said building the new Sheetz is not conducive to the spirit of the small community.
“We do not want them, we won’t support them, we won’t give them business,” Medinger said.
The gas station and convenience store would replace vacant buildings currently resting at Stratford Hills Shopping Center, which is located along Forest Hill Avenue. According to residents, bringing a large-scale chain business into a circle of smaller, locally owned shops contradicts the city’s masterplan.
“We still have some of the charm left of the city,” Medinger said. “Once we start putting in giant things like a Sheetz, a Sheetz gas station, convenience restaurant — we’re losing our charm and our vibe of our neighborhood.”
At Saturday’s protest, almost 200 people signed a petition protesting the new Sheetz store’s construction.
Susan Schmidt owns businesses nearby and expressed similar frustration.
“My biggest concern is that it doesn’t go with the shopping center,” Schmidt said. “This is an older, quiet residential area and it’s a shopping center that doesn’t, in my opinion, lend itself to a Sheetz.”
The center sits by a busy intersection. Residents also fear the introduction of a hotspot like Sheetz could further exasperate traffic concerns.
“We’ve talked to our police lieutenant and he has said the traffic will be overwhelming. Bumper-to-bumper, he predicts, the traffic will bleed into the neighborhoods,” Medinger said.
Schmidt agreed. “It’s going to be a bottleneck,” she added.
However, not everyone is opposed to the new location. Some residents have said they wouldn’t mind a new place to get food.
In a statement, Sheetz told 8News:
“We expect construction at this site to begin this month. Throughout this process, as we do with all new stores, we have worked with the city of Richmond, listening to feedback and making appropriate changes to our plan where necessary. We look forward to serving our Richmond customers at this location in the future.”
While developers are hoping to begin construction before November ends, Medinger said she isn’t going to give up just yet.
“It’s not done,” she said. “You can’t just tell us it’s done.”