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New southeast Lee convenience store being built

Hatcher Construction Co. workers clear a wooded lot in southeast Lee County that will be home to a new convenience store on Philema Road. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Hatcher Construction Co. workers clear a wooded lot in southeast Lee County that will be home to a new convenience store on Philema Road. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

LEESBURG — In a matter of hours Thursday, Hatcher Construction Co. employees cleared a wooded Philema Road lot in preparation of a construction project that will bring a new convenience store to southeast Lee County.

Smoke billowed in the air from large burn piles Friday morning, and steel that will be used for framing the structure was stacked nearby in anticipation of construction work that is expected to begin next week.

The new convenience store joins several other such businesses on the Lee/Dougherty County corridor that runs alongside Chehaw Park to the north and the Civil War memorial to the south. It’s also sparked something of a store war, as business owners compete for customers in subdivisions located along Philema.

“I don’t want to comment on our plans to possibly build another store, but we are going to update the one we have out there now,” said Jason Pitts, owner of the Philema Express convenience store located less than a mile from the location of the new structure. “We’re going to put a ‘beer cave’ in our store and increase the grocery products that we carry. That will allow us to maybe lower our prices a bit.

“We’re going to make some pretty significant improvements to the store, and of course we’ll keep our Subway restaurant. I think that’s one of the main reasons we’ve been able to attract a lot of the customers from those neighborhoods out that way.”

No less than four convenience stores are located on the south side of Philema in a 4-mile stretch east from the junction of Philema and Jefferson Street. Also located along the road are Mike’s Country Store, a Fred’s general store and a Dollar General.