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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Business picking up along U.S. 17 corridor in Stafford

The U.S. 17 corridor in Stafford County is attracting more attention from national retailers and eateries, many of which will open in the next few months.

The openings are welcome news to residents along  U.S. 17 who have long wondered why there aren’t more chain retailers and restaurants in that stretch.

A 17,000-square-foot Aldi discount grocery store will open Jan. 31 at 1030 Warrenton Road in the Berea Marketplace shopping center. Next to the Aldi store, DLR Contracting recently built an 8,500-square-foot multi-tenant retail structure.

Firehouse Subs will lease about 1,900 square feet in that center and should open in about three or four months, said Donny Self, a local commercial real estate broker who handled the deal.

A 7-Eleven convenience store (no gas) and ABC Phones store (a Verizon Wireless retailer) have each leased about 2,500 square feet in the multi-tenant space and are expected to open in the next couple of months.

Self, who is now a senior sales associate for Coldwell Banker Commercial Elite, said he is talking with other businesses to lease the final 1,300 square feet that is available in the new building. He said a dry cleaner is possible.

A Union First Market Bank branch is already open at Berea Marketplace, which is a project of Development Consulting Services and the Silver Cos.

Aldi’s U.S. 17 store will feature the company’s new design, including higher ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials. The company plans a number of events Jan. 31, including a ribbon cutting, tours, sweepstakes and food samples.

Aldi has three other Fredericksburg-area locations: in Spotsylvania County along State Route 3 and at Four-Mile Fork, and on Garrisonville Road in Stafford. Firehouse Subs has locations in the large Central Park, Southpoint and Stafford Marketplace shopping centers.

Other businesses are in the development stage along U.S. 17. Merchant’s and Goodyear automotive service centers are planned near the intersection of Celebrate Virginia Parkway, a Wawa store and Panera Bread restaurant are in the works in front of Carter’s Crossing and a Dunkin’ Donuts is proposed near the Interstate 95 interchange.

Other projects are in the pipeline. Two restaurant chains — one national and one regional — are interested in purchasing land in the Cherry Grove development off U.S. 17 for new locations, said Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer broker Magnolia Martin. She said she couldn’t identify the businesses because negotiations are still under way.

Martin said she thinks more businesses will locate along U.S. 17 as the economy picks up and the new establishments start to open.

“The corridor has been under-served for so long,” Martin said.

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