Goodbye Old Friends! | Interstate 42 project to change James City forever

The right of ‘eminent domain’ allows government to acquire property for public use – but only if true market value is paid. Keith Cowell, owner of Cowell’s Cleaners, is still in negotiations with the State of North Carolina. “What we’ve been offered is ‘way under’ what we consider to be fair,” said Cowell. “We purchased the site in 1996 as an investment for our future.” Cowell said he will probably be forced to leave prior to any final resolution of remuneration.

Even a nationwide chain of restaurants must give up when a $203 million Interstate project begins work. Many targeted businesses have posted notes on their front doors. Ruby Tuesday has one of the best: THANK YOU FOR BEING OUR AMAZING GUESTS. IT WAS OUR PLEASURE TAKING CARE OF YOU!

A fixture for decades alongside the railroad track in James City, Riverside will move several miles further east on existing Hwy. 70, where work is well under way on a new and larger location. More elbow room will likely be a long-term plus for the successful automobile dealership.

Acquiring a new building — or constructing one from bricks and mortar – is difficult enough. However, moving massive propane storage tanks is also part of the equation for Suburban. Tuesday morning, crews and crane were hard at work, as I-42 construction looms.

Wendi Johnson, the veteran civil engineer charged with supervising construction of I-42, said in a brief phone interview “we have pretty much got it down to the exact foot,” referring to layout, placement, and thousands of other details. Johnson confirmed that most of this site, owned by Fisher Fuel Marts, is destined to become a drainage retention pond.

This sign somehow escaped the wrecking ball – but not for too much longer. Of the 50-plus businesses to be affected in James City, Waffle House was among the first to take the money and run. Now, of course, all remaining demolitions will be coming at a fast and furious pace.