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We wish you were here

BY CATHY JETT

A Trader Joe’s. An ice rink.

Downtown businesses with evening hours.

These were among the suggestions readers offered in an informal poll on our fredericksburg.com blog for what they’d like to see open in six now-vacant buildings in the Fredericksburg area.

“Anything can go downtown in the old Cards & Cones, but please make it something that actually stays open and doesn’t close at 4 p.m. on a Saturday,” wrote Gracie Hart Brooks in the poll’s most popular post. It got nine “likes” and spurred three responses.

She and the others said that while downtown business owners like to complain that they don’t do any business, they’re closed during the time many people would like to shop.

“For me, there’s nothing better than an evening stroll downtown after dinner, and it’s a huge buzzkill when just about EVERY store is closed!!” added lovegr aphicdesign. “It makes no sense,” Brooks wrote. “If you want help, help yourselves first by staying open. You can’t make money if you’re closed.”

Cards & Cones was located at the prominent intersection of William and Caroline streets for 20 years before closing in 2007. Suggestions for the space ranged from a pizzeria—the Mellow Mushroom chain and independent Bottoms Up Pizza in Richmond—to a number of sandwich franchises. These included Jason’s Deli, Which Wich and Penn Station East Coast Deli.

The old Cards & Cones location was one of two in the city of Fredericksburg that were included in the poll. The other one was the site of the former Vinny’s Italian Grill & Pizza and Café Davanzo restaurants in Gateway Village (which was part of a parcel bought at foreclosure auction on May 23 by SummitBridge Credit Investments III LLC).

Suggestions for the latter space included a Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, note: no hyphen in the name is correctwhose menu includes a jalapeño pimento cheese pizza; and something for tweens, such as a roller rink.

The other four buildings in the poll were the former Ukrop’s and Giant Food, which are near each other on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County; and, in Stafford County, the Town Center at Aquia redevelopment and about 5,400 square feet of the former Borders store at Stafford Marketplace. Party City is taking the rest.

Most readers recommended that grocery chains currently not available in the Fredericksburg area go in the two former grocery stores. Several asked for a Trader Joe’s, which has long topped The Free Lance–Star’s annual Wish List poll of businesses readers would like to see open here.

Other suggestions included Harris Teeter, which once considered opening here; Kroger; Farm Fresh; Fresh Market; and Sprouts Farmers Market, an independent natural foods chain located in Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas.

Craftylady55 put in a plug for bringing back Einstein Bros note: no period is cq Bagels and Ukrop’s deli and bakery departments. Martin’s, which bought the Ukrop’s chain but not its Spotsylvania store, has put a Ukrop’s deli and bakery in the Ukrop’s buildings it did take over, she noted.

Jim Joyce, however, said either Ukrop’s or Giant Food would make a perfect space for an ice rink, which the region lost when the Fredericksburg Ice Park in Central Park closed in 2009.

“Bring back hockey, figure skating and open skate to the youth of the region!” he wrote.

Shelly Snyder said that the Town Center at Aquia “desperately needs revitalization and a grocery store to service Aquia Harbour and residents that live off of Route 1 that don’t want to go down 610. A Whole Foods would be awesome!!!”

She also suggested an Old Navy store and such restaurants as Potbelly Sandwich Shop, which also has made the annual Wish List. Currently, the closest Potbelly restaurants are in Gainesville and Manassas.

Mollie Cramer suggested Five Below and Ulta for Stafford Marketplace, and Golden Corral and Whole Foods Market for the Town Center. Imdavis wants a bookstore in Stafford, writing “We miss Borders!!!”

Cristina Gonzalez went beyond the poll requirements to make a plea to all businesses.

“ keep your hours posted on your door, on your voicemail, your website, your facebook page, and your mobile site,” she wrote. “Too many of you don’t!”

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/business/2012/05/24/we-wish-you-were-here/

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