A Pawleys Plaza redevelopment plan, which includes a 60,000-square-foot building, received the second of three approvals Tuesday from the Georgetown County Council after a unanimous vote.
The planned project will move to a third hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. .
The Plaza’s redevelopment, managed by Sunbelt Ventures LLC, stirred up controversy in recent months, with local officials wanting more business in the area and residents resisting large chain stores, such as Target.
About 100 people attended the meeting and 15 signed up to speak, most agreeing on the same point: bigger is not necessarily better for Pawleys Island progress.
Resident’s raised issued that included a suggestion for a new traffic study around the shopping center, ensuring sea turtle protection and protection for small businesses against “big box” stores.
Glenn Cox, former Georgetown Council member, asked the council to consider small businesses and business-owners when searching for new business tenants.
“If we don’t get the right business in there, it could mean the loss of employment for some locals and businesses,” Cox said.
After a half-hour of public comment and another half-hour of plan explanations and details from the developer, followed by comments from the council, the ordinance passed.
“This has been a very long and winding road,” said Bob Anderson, District 6 representative. “I’m sitting here tonight and I just have to say, I’m glad to see democracy in motion.”
Austin Beard, District 5 representative, asked Sunbelt Ventures for plans, sketches or drawings by the third hearing. He said it did not affect his vote on the ordinance’s second reading, but it would benefit the community and council to see a more concrete sketch of the proposed shopping center.
The development plan also includes a remodeled 33,382 existing building, a new 16,000 south of that, and on the south side a 19,688 square foot existing building will be remodeled. The plan also proposes building a 9,400 square-foot building on the highway between La Playa restaurant and Bank of America.
Pawleys Plaza originally contained an A&P grocery store, a post office and CVS pharmacy, among others. All have since vacated the shopping center.
The shopping center was built in 1986 but has had several openings the past few years. Last year, Sunbelt Ventures LLC applied to redevelop the property, using a new 119,500 square-foot store as centerpiece. Pawleys Island residents vehemently protested the development, arguing the size violated the 60,000 square-foot maximum for the Ocean Highway corridor.
Sunbelt Ventures LLC said the larger store would be outside the fringe of the Ocean Highway corridor, but opponents said the center’s prominent position along the highway made the limit relevant.
More than 1,000 residents attended a September public hearing on the redevelopment plans, but most seemed to be against a “big box” retail store in the area.
A report by county staff said the new large store alone could supply between 120-150 jobs and bring in $39 million in sales, and could draw $150,000 more a year in county property taxes.