Death of a strip mall
This particular shopping center is called Hillsborough Commons. This one is before my time, but judging by the architecture, i'd guess it was built in the early-to-mid 80s, during one of Wal-Mart's big expansion phases. I'm sure it was sold to the county as a job creation engine, enough so that Hillsborough eventually annexed it into the town. Wal-Mart built their big new job creation engine about 2 miles away on the other side of I-85 (i'm guessing outside of town limits again) a couple years ago. The center has been slowly losing customers while the old Wal-Mart sat empty. Earlier this year, Orange County social Services became the new occupant of most of the Wal-Mart space.
Last week, employees and patrons of Lowe's food store were surprised to discover the store locked up tight when they showed up to work and shop. Sonny's, one of the relative handful of lunch spots in Hillsborough, packed it in the next day.
I don't know what the net gain/loss of jobs is now between the new and old Wal-Mart centers, and i don't know what the eventual cost to the taxpayer is going to be to either decommission the center, or just keep it from deteriorating until someone figures out how to make that land profitable, or what the environmental costs of having about 10 acres of more or less useless impervious surface in the watershed is, but i know that whatever those numbers are, they weren't used by any decision makers when it came to approving the new Wal-Mart location.
Which is a valuable lesson for Durham, and its empty big box stores on Roxboro (Wal-Mart and K-Mart) and 15-501 (Circuit City and Ashley).