North Myrtle Beach to get second major shopping center

sjones@thesunnews.comMarch 25, 2014 

Developers have begun the search for tenants for another major shopping center in North Myrtle Beach.

Scott Williamson, vice president of Fletcher Bright, said his company wants to attract retailers not already in the area to Champions Crossing, an 80-acre center that will rise between Robert Edge Parkway and the new North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex and Park.

Plans for the center show 15 retail spaces totaling nearly 250,000 square feet plus 37,350 square feet for restaurants and 19.88 acres divided into 11 outparcels. Development labeled as Phase 2 includes a 128,000-square-foot big-box store and two more outparcels with more than four acres between them, but Williamson said that Phase 2 may be developed at the same time as the other property.

North Myrtle Beach City Councilman Bob Cavanaugh said he’s hoping to see stores such as Target and Kohl’s in the center. North Myrtle Beach residents now must travel to Myrtle Beach to shop at those stores.

Cavanaugh said Champions Crossing will be a major step in the development of the city and its presence will help Robert Edge Parkway to develop with businesses and homes much like Myrtle Beach’s Grissom Parkway.

He said it’s too early to predict what tax revenue the city will get from the center, but it should be significant.

Williamson said because of its location between S.C. 31 and S.C. 90, Champions Crossing likely will draw a more regional audience than Coastal North Town Center, the 368,000-square-foot shopping center under construction on U.S. 17 Business. Coastal North, though, will be home to the area’s first Publix Food Market and Hobby Lobby that undoubtedly will attract customers from outside of the immediate North Myrtle Beach area.

While Coastal North is to open late fall or early winter this year, Williamson said he probably won’t be able to announce tenants at Champions Crossing until late this year. Once the tenants are set, it could be another 18 months before the center opens.

Williamson said that the site plan, which has not yet been filed with the city, could change to, for instance, accommodate a second big-box store.

Fletcher Bright has had the property since at least 2007, when another development plan was put on hold because of the economy.

In its current configuration, the site plan has the restaurants mostly grouped around a central courtyard that was influenced by the nearby city park and the many out-of-town people expected to use its sports complex.

“We’re trying to play off the strengths the park brings to the property,” Williamson said.

Chattanooga-based Fletcher Bright has a number of other developments in South Carolina and many are strip-type shopping centers anchored by a Wal-Mart. None have the total square footage as Champions Crossing.

Marc Jordan, CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the development of two significant shopping centers in the city shows that investors have been paying attention to the growth in the North Strand area.

He said it’s always good when people can spend their money in North Myrtle Beach rather than other parts of the Grand Strand. And he agreed with Williamson that Champions Crossing will add to the city’s place in regional shopping patterns.

“We’re quickly becoming a region of our own,” he said.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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