Worcester Looking To Sublet Liquor Store Location In Resort

SNOW HIL – The county will begin seeking proposals from parties interested in subletting the 16th Street liquor store this month as the exit strategy designed to get Worcester County out of the liquor business moves ahead.

On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners approved a request for proposals (RFP) that will be issued to sublease the 16th Street Retail Liquor Store. Officials are hoping to find someone to take over the lease, which runs until February 2024.

“I think this is a prudent move at the right time,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.

County officials agreed in 2015 to liquidate the Worcester County Department of Liquor Control (DLC), ending wholesale operations in 2016 and retail sales by the summer of 2017. The exit strategy was deemed the best way to end the department’s growing losses.

Though officials originally intended to sublet the 16th Street store and the Gold Coast Mall store, Assistant Chief Administrator Kelly Shannahan said Tuesday that the landlord of the Gold Coast Mall location did not want to extend the county’s existing lease, which is up Dec. 31. He said the DLC management committee would bring the commissioners a recommendation regarding the disposal of that store’s inventory in the near future.

Shannahan said 14 parties had already expressed interest in taking over the 16th Street store lease. The county will advertise for proposals and mail the RFP to those who have expressed interest prior to the pre-bid inspection set for Sept. 22.

Shannahan said the committee would have a bid recommendation for the commissioners no later than Nov. 15.

“They must bid at least the cost of the lease payments …,” he said. “For the inventory that’s in the stores, we’re requiring that the bidders must purchase the inventory that’s in the stores.”

He said bidders did have the opportunity to bid higher than the current lease payment and higher than the price of the existing inventory.

“The bids will be reviewed based on a combination of the price offered for the sublease as well as the contents and also a demonstrated ability and experience operating a retail liquor store primarily or other similar retail establishments,” Shannahan said.

Once the bids are received the committee will review them and, if necessary, interview finalists before making a recommendation to the commissioners.

Mitrecic praised the plan and said he was glad the county was leasing the store now.

“We certainly can’t wait until the spring to do this,” he said. “People need to develop a business plan and see how they’re going to move forward before the summer season. I think this is the right move in the right direction.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.