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A look at Carolina Forest

Carolina Forest has had mixed signals when it comes to the economy, from the Piggly Wiggly anchor store at the Forest Square shopping center closing to a handful of diverse new businesses finding a niche selling everything from Legos to boxing lessons. Community leaders say they expect a slow and steady recovery but were hesitant to say what 2010 may bring.

"There are some businesses that are thriving, like the bars and restaurants, but the larger corporate businesses may not be doing as well. Then again, business at the large stores affects the entire shopping center where they're located," said Dennis J. DiSabato, a local real estate attorney and one of the founding members of the Carolina Forest Civic Association. "I have clients who are interested and are opening up delis and pizzerias across 501. I think there are people who want to take advantage of the lower rental rates for retail space. We probably have a little bit of road ahead of us before that starts to flourish again."

Members of the civic association said they plan to stay on top of recruitment efforts to fill any empty storefronts. DiSabato said he has heard that companies are interested particularly in the Forest Square anchor spot, but nothing has been confirmed. Carolina Forest also is slated for some major improvements through Horry County in the next few years that could be a big draw for more families including a library and community center. The county is also negotiating with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources over when and how it will be allowed to pave International Drive, which would create another entrance into the community and more opportunities for business growth.

- Claudia Lauer