PARRISH -- A new Dollar General normally wouldn't create a lot of buzz considering the number of stores the discount retailer has, but the new one in Parrish might be worth noticing.
When the store opens early next year, shoppers won't see the Dollar General's black and yellow sign slapped on a standard warehouse-looking building, but instead something that resembles an old fashioned general store with its Florida Cracker architectural style.
Parrish was able to shape what the Dollar General at U.S. 301 and 121st Avenue East would look like thanks to the Parrish Commercial Village Overlay District. The county adopted the special zoning district in 2008 along U.S. 301 to spell out design standards and architectural features in addition to signs,
parking and other building details. The store is expected to open next year.
Often when chain restaurants and stores move into an old neighborhood, stores such as McDonald's or Walmart bring their standard looking buildings and at some point during the public hearing process folks complain that the buildings don't match the character of the area. But Parrish prepared for that years ago by implementing design standards.
"I think somebody like that coming in wants to know what's acceptable to the community, and say, look at the design standards, why fight it?" said Ben Jordan, president of the Parrish Civic Association.
The key language in the overlay is that new commercial construction must be "visually distinctive" and draw from the "historic, rural heritage of the Parrish community." An entire subsection gives options of three architectural styles that can be used in the district: Cracker, Folk Victorian and Florida Ranch. The store will also have a monument sign instead of the "lollipop" pole signs with the logo atop.
The store is being developed by Hanlex Development, which is a sister company of Fitzgerald Construction in Apopka. The development company is the primary developer for new Dollar Generals in Manatee, Sarasota, Osceola, Collier and Broward counties.
To get Hanlex to abide by those standards was relatively easy, Jordan said, crediting the company for coming up with the design.
"They came back and it was a very bright yellow color, and we asked them to mute it, so it's sort of a cream color now," he said. "What we found is when you develop standards and get them out in front of the developer community, they like them because it takes less fighting to get things approved."
The village's design standards for new businesses can be seen at Rural Health, C&K Smoke House BBQ and the post office, which was originally planned as red brick. Seeing a rebirth in the village hasn't been fully realized yet, but the design standards for new businesses are helping, Jordan said.
The civic association surveyed residents in October and found that out of the 400 responses so far, residents want a new restaurant and a Target, Jordan said. He's realistic that Target might not come to Parrish, but if something like a Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware comes in, it would help fill some of the void for lawn and garden needs, he said. The need for more retail and dining is becoming pressing in Parrish, he said.
More than 500 homes were OK'd for building permits in Parrish's main ZIP code through October, Jordan pointed out, which is second only to Lakewood Ranch, the most active area for home building, and those home buyers will need places to shop and dine.
"We're trying to meet with different developers and restaurant chains and say you're overlooking something," Jordan said.
The overlay has some room for improvement. The village overlay limited buildings to two-story, 5,000-square-foot construction, so Dollar General had to get special approval from the County Commission, for its 9,100-square-feet location, which it received unanimously Thursday.
"It would be nice to get a convenience store like Wawa with gas pumps in the village area, but if a store comes in, they have to get a special approval because it's bigger than 5,000 square feet," he said.
As for Dollar General, the Goodlettsville, Tenn., business appears to be booming in Manatee County. The chain has eight stores in Manatee County plus a Dollar General Market grocery store at DeSoto Plaza at 1st Street and Cortez Road. A ninth store, 2923 W. Manatee Ave., will have a grand opening Saturday at 8 a.m. The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
The grand opening will take place in a space formerly occupied by its rival Family Dollar. The first 50 adult shoppers at the store receive a $10 Dollar General gift card, and the first 200 shoppers will receive a Dollar General tote bag.
"Dollar General is committed to delivering a pleasant shopping experience that includes a convenient location, a wide assortment of merchandise and great prices on quality products," said Dan Nieser, Dollar General's senior vice president of real estate and store development.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.