By Dorothy Maloney
Francisco Espinosa was born in Chile, and raised by his mother, Nena. After majoring in engineering and graduating from the University of Santa Maria in Chile, he obtained a visa to the United States. This is where his Dad had migrated, and in 1987, Francisco joined him in New York City. The young Chilean worked diligently in construction and soon was able to buy, as well as build real estate, which proved to be very lucrative.
Within 16 years, Francisco had enough real estate where there would be a consistent and substantial income and he was able to move to Wesley Chapel. Soon after arriving here, he saw some property, and a building, located on Waxhaw-Indian Trail Road in Wesley Chapel, both in unkempt condition. He had a dream about this land, and the next morning, remembering the dream, he envisioned a new building of his choice that would make the site beautiful.
He contacted an investor, hoping to erect residential homes. Within three days, the investor informed Francisco that houses could not be built on this particular land. The investor backed out. But Francisco followed his dream. He bought the property. In order to prepare the property for his plan, he contacted the metal recycle center in Monroe who agreed to take all the metal rims with a small tire around them. After conferring with the Landfill in Monroe, they agreed to take all the tires, Francisco cut the tires off the rims and delivered them to their respective recycle center. He not only removed more than 1,000 tires from the property and close to 70,000 pounds of rusted steel and another 6,000 pounds of plastic. He did it all with some help from his daughter.
“Progress was being made – the land now cleaner, was looking beautiful,” said Francisco.
Before long, electrical and mechanical inspectors from Union County came to perform inspections, every one of them said: “this junkyard was originally a gas station.” Then Francisco recalled his dream – he was told that five different businesses were in operation over the last 50 years. He did some more research and found that in 1975 when the Zoning Board was established, the area was zoned R40, by Union County, and in 2003 the Wesley Chapel Land Use Plan maintained the same zone, however this individual property did not fit the criteria for residential development as he was told two years prior. In May of this year, a voice awakened him saying he should start working on his “dream model.” He jumped out of bed with his rulers, paper, calculator and pencils and within eight hours he had the plan on paper. His second dream came to be! He would build a gas station and a market named “Nena’s Market.”
A couple of weeks later, Francisco and his wife, Elizabeth, attended their son’s graduation from Wesley Chapel Elementary. The children sang a song, “Dream, Dream Big, Dream, reaching the stars.”
“I felt touched when I heard the song,” he said.
Later that day, he received a call telling him the water line extension was coming to his property. Francisco said, “Thank God.” Because that is what he needed was the water extension. This extension will help six neighbors, two each from Weddington, Union County and Wesley Chapel, including the Central Baptist Church across the road from his property. There is a beautifully built Gas Station and “Nena’s Market” named after Francisco’s Mom, because he claims “I am who I am because of my Mother.”
The Gas Station & Nena’s Market are located on Waxhaw-Indian Trail Road in Wesley Chapel just beyond the new traffic circle. It will be open before you know it, so watch for it.
Francisco and his wife, Elizabeth, have a son, James, who attends Sun Valley, and a daughter, Stephanie, 18, who attends Appalachian State University. The best of luck to you. Watch for the Grand Opening!