Fort Mill looking for easier path to former Food Lion redevelopment

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comOctober 21, 2013 

— Redevelopment of the old Food Lion shopping center in Fort Mill could be a good bit easier, following a recent town decision allowing for more commercial square footage at the site.

Last week, Fort Mill Town Council unanimously approved a change to the Tom Hall Street Corridor District aimed at making the former Food Lion at Tom Hall and Doby’s Bridge Road more attractive to developers.

“The old Food Lion plaza has been an ongoing concern,” said Mayor Danny Funderburk. “What we see here is a real opportunity.”

The overlay didn’t allow a building bigger than 15,000 square feet. Just the former Food Lion spot is 18,400 square feet, and many new grocery stores are much larger. The vacant, former pharmacy spot right beside the grocery space is more than 9,000 square feet. The entire shopping center is about 50,000 square feet.

Joe Cronin, town planning director, said the 15,000-square-foot maximum allowed prior to last week’s change “has really hindered any redevelopment opportunity” there. Chris Tull, with property owner Tull Development Co., said this summer that his group had “a broker working on it full time” and that they’d be willing to make “a lot of improvements or modernization” to the space.

The property owners could nt be reached for comment, but Cronin said there are discussions taking place on the site.

“We have had preliminary discussions with one potential developer in the last few weeks, but no plans have been submitted to date,” he said Monday.

The town considered five alternatives for removing the square footage provision, from simply eliminating it to making special exceptions or tying building size to acreage. The new rules states that if an existing building is in place, it can be torn down and that same square footage can go into redevelopment. If, for instance, the entire shopping center were leveled, a developer could build a 50,000-square-foot project.

Those 50,000 square feet could be in one or multiple buildings, on the same ground as the old building or just on the same property.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same footprint,” Cronin said.

A builder could add up to 10 percent more square footage if “exemplary” construction materials or design standards are used, he said.

While the new rule could help promote development at the former Food Lion, it wouldn’t have much impact on undeveloped properties. Council decided to reduce the size of the overlay to take out properties near Springfield Parkway and its coming connection with the Fort Mill Southern Bypass.

The 15,000-square-foot requirement “will limit any such development opportunity” on land parcels there, according to staff information sent to Council prior to last week’s decision. Commercial development is expected in that area once the bypass is complete.

The town continues work on what’s expected to be an overlay all along the bypass, including properties within 500 feet of the road. Meaning, Cronin said, the properties removed from the Tom Hall overlay still will be included in the bypass overlay.

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