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Bragg annexation could boost Fayetteville's retail scene

Fayetteville now has a population of 206,000, topping the threshold some national restaurant and retail chains set for determining where to expand.

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Fayetteville now has about 30,000 more residents, courtesy of its annexation of Fort Bragg, the city announced Monday.

In July, legislators passed a bill extending Fayetteville's city limits over most of the installation. The bill also moved Spring Lake's borders into Pope Air Force Base and part of Fort Bragg.

The bill said the annexation would take effect Sept. 1, but city officials waited until Fort Bragg officials agreed before announcing the annexation was a done deal.

Fayetteville now has a population of 206,000 by state estimates. The city trails Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham and Winston-Salem in population.

Doug Peters, president of the Fayetteville-Cumberland Chamber of Commerce, said 200,000 is the magic number for some national restaurant and retail chains, such as Kohl's, Macy's and Chili's.

"They look for certain thresholds related to the number of rooftops, median income, the number of people and the disposable income," Peters said. "(The added population) boosts us up over that threshold and allows us then to get on the radar."

Developers already have plans for a wooded spot near Cross Creek Mall that could include some uptown retailers. No tenants have been announced for the site.

"I'll know success if I can bring a Fresh Market to Fayetteville," Mayor Tony Chavonne said.

In addition to financial advantages for all groups, the annexation will have other benefits. Soldiers who live on post will be able to register to vote in municipal elections, which are next year.

City manager Dale Iman said officials are discussing ways to eventually extend transit service and recreation programs to Fort Bragg through some sort of cooperative agreement. But the usual types of city services, such as building inspectors, trash collectors and police officers, won't be added to Fort Bragg.

Fort Bragg remains federal property and will continue to be off-limits to local taxes.

"We're the last major installation in North Carolina that's been incorporated by the local community," Chavonne said of Fort Bragg. "Symbolically, it means that not only are we kind of spiritually part of the military, but we really are together."

Spring Lake's population jumped to about 13,200, a gain of about 5,000, with the annexation.

"It's a great thing with all of the other development we are seeing in our town," Mayor Ethel Clark said.

The annexations will help pay off a $10 million water line built by Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission. Since the city has more people, it will collect more state tax revenue, which is doled out based on population.

Fayetteville and Spring Lake will use the extra revenue to pay off the Army’s debt on the water line project, officials said.