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The Fresh Market, a specialty grocery chain that has had a signed lease in West Manchester Town Center for more than 18 months, will not be opening its first York County location as planned.

The Greensboro, North Carolina-based company will be forgoing its opportunity to open the store — slated for a space next to DSW — in order to focus its investments on existing stores, according to Fresh Market spokesman Randy Young.

"We understand this decision may disappoint many of the local residents who had patiently awaited our store to arrive, and sincerely apologize for having caused confusion by taking a pause on the market," Young wrote in a statement.

The company still owns the lease on the 23,684-square-foot property, which it signed in January 2016, and has hired Bennett Williams Commercial to find a new tenant, according to Bennett Williams' Brad Rohrbaugh.

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Fresh Market had originally been slated for a summer 2016 opening, but company officials announced the opening would be delayed for an undetermined amount of time after it was purchased in March 2016 by an affiliate of private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $1.36 billion.

Rohrbaugh said the space that Fresh Market would have occupied has certain exclusions and restrictions that a tenant would need to meet, but nothing too inhibiting.

Bennett Williams will work to find a new tenant as soon as possible, and Rohrbaugh said he foresees a new tenant being announced by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

Low vacancies: West Manchester Town Center, which was revamped from the enclosed West Manchester Mall beginning in 2014, has only a few vacancies remaining.

Recent companies opening stores in the center include Dickey's Barbecue Pit, MOD Pizza and Metro Diner.

More: Shopping evolution: Downtown, suburban areas adapt to retail decline

According to a brochure posted on the website for Rhino Realty Group, which is handling leasing for the town center, five spaces totaling less than 67,000 square feet are available.

The largest available space, between Burlington and where Fresh Market was slated to go, is more than 52,500 square feet.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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