More new shops open in Indian Land strip mall June 19, 2012 

— Newcomers hear it all the time, and long-time residents love to say it.

“I remember when…”

In Indian Land, it’s not hard to remember a time when Hwy. 521 ran through pastures and farm lands. Even in recent memory, the Indian Land schools and an occasional gas station were the only signs of commercial life.

That’s changed in the last 15 years as out-of-towners discovered the small community and delighted in its proximity to Charlotte.

Homes went up by the hundreds and, with them came restaurants, shops and business parks.

“The first thing you have to have in a growing area is rooftops. And they reach a critical mass at some point and begin to attract professional services and such,” said commercial real estate specialist Skip Tuttle, principal with The Tuttle Company.

“Indian Land has reached that tipping point. That’s why Lowes, Walmart and others have come in there and that’s why you’ll see it continue. That’s why Publix is there. They read the same tea leaves everyone else did.”

A strip mall in front of Walmart was the most recent set of shops to open in Indian Land. Last week, a Krispy Kreme opened in the shopping center to much fanfare. Other stores in the strip mall include Marco’s Pizza, a nail shop, Friendly dentist and, coming soon, Shane’s Rib Shack. GameStop, GNC and Great Clips have also opened in the strip mall.

Tuttle has two properties he is marketing in the Indian Land area. One of the properties, Edgewater, includes retail and professional space. He expects to see more medical offices coming to the Edgewater area as well as “more retail with frontage on 521.”

“We’re seeing not only retail interest but also other employment opportunities coming to the Indian Land area that are recognizing the growth in the population base. They understand that there are over 80,000 people in a five mile radius of Hwy. 160 and Hwy. 521 and those are driving interest in retail, professional services and a number of other business,” Tuttle said.

Those 80,000 people include residents of Ballantyne, an upscale south Charlotte suburb, who are crossing the S.C. line for cheaper gasoline, but also coming to Indian Land to do their shopping and dining, Tuttle added.

Karen Smith has lived in Indian Land for 16 years. She isn’t surprised to see more businesses opening in the area.

“You build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door,” Smith said.

The growth has allowed Smith to shop in Lancaster County for most of her shopping needs, something she says is important to her.

But like many, she laments some of what growth has done to the community.

“There is a lot of frustration, especially sitting at each and every stop light on 521,” Smith said. “But most of the change is for the better.”

Smith hopes to continue to see more restaurants in the community. Tuttle said that’s a definite possibility.

“We need additional restaurants out there and we’re working hard to identify more prospects in that category,” Tuttle said. “You’ll see a rounding out of the retail mix that will provide services to the people.”

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