Fast food eatery, pharmacy, grocery store among development in the works for Carolina Forest

sjones@thesunnews.comSeptember 15, 2013 

International Drive Developement

Commercial construction is booming at the intersection of International Drive and River Oaks Drive in Carolina Forest. Site work is under way for a Lowes Foods with down the street a Kangaroo and a Subway are almost ready to open and a CVS is planned for 2014.

BY CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

— A new commercial hub is in the works on the International Drive side of Carolina Forest that’s a part of a continuing resurgence of commercial construction in Horry County.

The resurgence began in 2011, according to Horry County permit records, and the development along International and River Oaks drives is at least partly a factor of the residential growth in the area, according to the developer.

“We’ve got a tremendous amount of interest on the other parcels out there,” said Dargan Grigg. senior project manager and broker for Leonard, Grigg & Associates, which is developing 200 acres that stretches from the current activity to nearby S.C. 31. “I have phone calls every day.”

Currently under construction are a Pantry, Bojangles, Murphy’s Express, Lowe’s Foods and a cosmetic dentistry office, said David Schwerd of the Horry County Planning Department. Plans have been approved for a CVS pharmacy in the same area as the grocery store. Plans have been submitted for a Lowe’s Fuel Center, Coggin Security store and a 264-unit multi-family project called The Vinings.

The area of significant commercial construction is one of two in Horry County currently, said Horry County Planning Director Janet Carter. The other is along S.C. 544 from Sayebrook to Ocean Lakes Family Campground. Activity also has begun to develop the area behind the Olive Garden across from Tanger Outlet stores off U.S. 501.

And as soon as the overpass work is completed at the back gate area on U.S. 17 Bypass, Grigg said building will start on 50 acres there.

“The issue is people are starved for any type of retail,” Grigg said.

In addition to the construction jobs, commercial building gives work to architects, designers and construction material suppliers. It also injects money into the county till through fees for building permits and inspections.

A study by the National Association of Home Builders said that 1.16 jobs and $33,494 in state, local and federal taxes are generated by the construction of each unit of the average multi-family project such as The Vinings.

Impacts also include ongoing property tax revenue and the jobs that will be housed in the new buildings. Hundreds of people will work at the new businesses and their day-to-day spending money will stimulate the economy in the entire region.

Exactly what will occupy the land along International Drive that is not now under development has not been finalized, but Grigg said that the possibilities include any number of restaurants, retail outlets, a big box sporting store, another pharmacy and a big office building.

Just seeing the restaurants, gas stations and other buildings now under construction helps to bolster consumer confidence, Grigg said, and that in turn leads to increased spending, more development and more jobs.

“Eighteen months ago,” he said, “there wasn’t anything out there.”

Horry County construction permit records show there was a burst of activity in 2010 that cooled off toward the end of the year, with fewer permits issued in the final six months as compared to the same time in 2009.

But the curve began a steady climb by July 2011, when the revenue from construction permits soared 82 percent over July 2010, even though the number of permits issued dropped by 29 percent.

Fees for permits are charged based on the estimated value of the construction allowed in each document. Increased revenue from permits at the same time as the number of permits decreased likely indicates the permits were for larger buildings than those the year before.

The pace this fiscal year is even hotter than last. The county issued 41 permits in July and August, which was down from 2012, but permit fees paid jumped 125 percent from the same time a year earlier.

Grigg said that the construction activity feeds the appetite for more building.

“People realized the train is leaving and they better jump on,” he said of the International Drive development.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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