Plan for Pawleys plaza up for another vote

For The Sun NewsJanuary 7, 2013 

— A revised plan for redeveloping the Pawleys Plaza shopping center that meets the demands of residents is up for the second of three approvals by Georgetown County Council at its regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The shopping center was built in 1986 but has had several vacancies in recent years. Sunbelt Ventures LLC applied last year to redevelop the property with its new centerpiece being a 119,500-square-foot store.

Pawleys area residents protested loudly, saying the size, enough for a ``big box’’ retail operation such as for a Wal-Mart, violated the 60,000-square-foot maximum for the Ocean Highway corridor.

The developers said the larger store would be outside the fringe of the corridor, but opponents said the shopping center’s position along the highway made the limit relevant.

More than 1,000 people came to a public hearing on the redevelopment plans in September, according to a staff report on the latest proposal. The report says 55 people spoke, and only four were in favor of the development.

The county planning commission voted 4-1 to allow the project only if the building was cut to the maximum 60,000 square feet, a bike path was built around the perimeter and a landscaped berm buffer built along the front of the shopping center.

Sunbelt filed its revised plans Wednesday, with the largest building set for 60,000 square feet. It would be about where the north side of the center is located. The existing part would be torn down.

A 10-foot space separates the large building from 33,382 existing square feet, which will be remodeled. A new 16,000-square-foot building is to be erected on the south side of the remodeled space.

On the south side of the shopping center, 19,688 square feet of existing space will be remodeled. The separate building along the highway that houses La Playa restaurant will not be changed, nor will the Bank of America that also faces the highway. The plan does propose a new 9,400-square-foot building on the highway between the bank and La Playa.

Additionally, there would be a small residential community in the rear, consisting of seven single-family lots and 12 townhouses. The existing Richardson Lane, a county road, would be the access to the residential area.

When Pawleys Plaza was built, it housed an A&P grocery store, CVS Pharmacy and the post office as its major tenants. All have since vacated and another recent long-time tenant, Dollar General, left after building a new store across the highway.

The county staff report says the new large store alone could supply 120 to 150 jobs and $39 million in sales. It could bring in $150,000 more a year in county property taxes.

Also on the agenda is a proposed change in uses for the Litchfield Exchange shopping center so that Coastal Carolina University can hold its outreach classes in the building. The university has left its building nearby because its lease was ending.

A public hearing is on the agenda for a proposed multi-county business park with Horry County. The arrangements are usually for an economic development incentive, and a county that joins with another county can offer more incentives. In this case, the project is in Horry County, called Project Volunteer. Georgetown County would receive 1 percent of the payments in lieu of taxes that the park occupant pays to Horry County.

The council meets in the old courtroom at 133 Screven St.

Contact Zane Wilson at xtsnscribe@aol.com.

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