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Starbucks pulling out of The Deck development

MORGANTOWN — A representative of Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks confirmed to The Dominion Post on Friday that the brand is pulling its store from The Deck development under construction at 1050 University Avenue.

The news comes after weeks of public discourse surrounding the only other business known to be under contract for the location, Florida-based firearms retailer Big Daddy Guns.

In a letter addressed to “partners,” and provided to The Dominion Post, District Manager Lee Ann Mahute and Regional Director Dave Thomas provided the reasoning.

The letter states, “ … we have made the decision to not move forward with the opening of our store on University Ave in Morgantown, WV.  We have heard from members of the community and, importantly, many of you about the safety concerns you have for this location’s proximity to another business planned for University Avenue.”

The letter goes on to indicate that employees hired to staff the location will be offered a transfer to one of the other Morgantown Starbucks stores.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, but remain convicted this is the right decision for our partners and our community.”

Ever since Bentlyville, Pa.-based developer Hardy World announced The Deck project in late 2020, “a national coffee chain” has been touted as the anchor tenant of the 14,500-square-foot building.

Asked Friday about potential legal action resulting from this decision, Jay Go-Guasch, with Starbucks Media Relations, said the company had no comment.

News of the decision came about 24 hours after Jodi Hollingshead revealed she and others from Protect Morgantown — a community group opposing Big Daddy Guns’ inclusion in The Deck — met virtually with representatives from the Starbucks corporate team.

Protect Morgantown previously tried appealing directly to Hardy World without success.

Hollingshead said she appreciates Starbucks’ willingness to take a stand and hopes Hardy World is starting to pay attention.

“Our hope is that Hardy World takes this as a message and a sign that Starbucks isn’t going to be the only retailer that doesn’t want to be neighbors with Big Daddy Guns,” she said. “At this point, it already would have been cheaper for them to tear up the Big Daddy Guns contract, get sued and take care of that lawsuit instead of losing Starbucks.”

The Dominion Post reached out to Hardy World for comment but has yet to receive a response.

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