NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Family Dollar store that a lot of people relied on in a Norfolk neighborhood is still months away from reopening, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
One year after a devastating fire caused the Church Street Family Dollar to close, construction is underway to get it back up and running.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue responded to a two-alarm fire inside the store in early September of 2022.
A few months later, firefighters told us they believe the fire was intentionally set.
They told us they believe the person responsible set a display shelf on fire in the front of the store.
After the fire forced the store to close, many residents were left with fewer grocery options, since many who live in the area don’t have transportation to shop anywhere else.
The Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore has staged several emergency distributions outside of the store over the past year.
One community member told us last December that a lot of people in that area are hungry.
“So many people don’t have cars or transportation or anything like that,” said Jerelle Frazier Jones.
Nearby resident Delores Thornton said she has to rely on family members to take her to the grocery store.
“My sisters take me and my cousin to Piggy Wiggly and Food Lion,” Thornton said. “When it be open, I can walk over there — me and my girlfriend.”
Paul Peck, the manager of 720 Church Street LLC, said work is underway to reopen the store. He said as soon as construction is complete, they’ll turn the space back over to Family Dollar.
He hopes they’ll be able to give them the keys by the end of the year, but believes it will take a little more time to get the shelves re-stocked and the store set up before they’ll be able to reopen their doors to customers.
In the meantime, the food bank said that in order to serve this community on a more regular basis, a mobile food pantry takes place on the fourth Tuesday of each month in the Scope parking lot. They serve about 500 families there.