Publix grocery store part of Robber’s Roost Town Center in North Myrtle Beach

sjones@thesunnews.comJanuary 25, 2013 

— A stalled town center in North Myrtle Beach is back on track and will house a Publix, but the center will have fewer shops than proposed in a plan a little more than a month ago and more parking spaces than city Planning Commission members would like.

This would be the first Publix store along the Grand Strand. The company, founded in 1930 in Florida, has more than 1,000 stores in five states, including 47 in South Carolina.

But the parking plan is what caught the attention of some Planning Commission members.

“I would like to see retailers more receptive to reducing the number of parking spaces,” commission member Erin Blalock said at a meeting Monday evening.

Phil Wilson of Greenville, the developer of Robbers Roost Town Center, said he would work with tenants to see if they would agree to fewer spaces, but the number of parking places in the current plan is because that’s the number the tenants want.

At one time a golf course, the land where the town center will be built has lain dormant waiting for someone to use it. It sits among several subdivisions including Seabrook Plantation and Fox Hollow along U.S. 17 near 11th Avenue North. There have been other development plans for the property, but none became active projects.

Greg Duckworth, a landscape designer and North Myrtle Beach councilman who is helping Wilson on the project, said the lineup of tenants will raise the bar on shopping along the North Strand. But he didn’t want to say who they are.

One that is known is a Publix grocery store, which will be the first in the area, and commission members said the angled parking in front of its store is not in keeping with the straight-in parking in the rest of North Myrtle Beach. But Duckworth and Wilson explained that the alignment was determined by Publix, and commissioners were content to let them be.

The store is on the opposite side of the center than in the previous plan. Residents near the original site had said they worried that nighttime deliveries to the grocery store would disturb them.

The store now slated to be in the grocery’s original place will have fewer deliveries, which should take place in the daytime, Duckworth said.

Although no other tenants were named, the website for Wilson’s company, RealtyLink, said the company has extensive experience with retailers and restaurants such as Kohl’s and Atlanta Bread Co. It has developed other property in Horry County, including some near the intersection of U.S. 17 Bypass and S.C. 544.

The Robber’s Roost center will have the same 348,000 square feet of space as was in the former plan, but will arrange buildings in two rather than three separate blocks. An event lawn that was originally 8,495 square feet has been reduced somewhat, and there will be 13 rather than 18 tenant spaces.

“In today’s market, you’ve got to come in with established names,” Duckworth told planning commissioners to explain the fewer but larger tenant spaces.

He said an email had been sent to residents in surrounding neighborhoods to update them on the status of the project.

It had gotten to a City Council meeting for an up or down vote on Dec. 2, but was tabled so Wilson’s company could work out details concerning modifications to the approved development agreement. While it lay in limbo at the city, RealtyLink wanted to make further modifications.

Duckworth said construction is expected to start early this summer and the center be ready to open in a year.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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