Walmart Neighborhood Market to move into vacant Fort Mill Food Lion space

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 22, 2014 

The old Food Lion (to the left of Family Dollar) has been closed for nearly 15 years. The strip mall will be torn down to make way for a Walmart Neighborhood grocery store.

MICHAEL HARRISON — mharrison@fortmilltimes.com

— Walmart is coming to Fort Mill.

Next week, the town’s planning commission will review plans for a Walmart Neighborhood Market at 100 Fort Mill Square, the former Food Lion shopping center between Doby’s Bridge Road and Tom Hall Street.

The project does not require a Town Council vote.

“The property is properly zoned for a grocery store,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director. “It’s already in town (limits).”

The planning commission will review architecture plans and can ask for landscaping, sidewalk connections or similar features.

“It’s not an issue of whether they can go there,” Cronin said. “It’s really just, what’s it going to look like?”

Plans for the new store show an almost 42,000-square-foot center, larger than the former Food Lion that took up more than 38,000 square feet. Los Aztecas, a Mexican restaurant, and other businesses in the strip mall will have to relocate. Family Dollar already is building a site just yards away at the corner of Doby’s Bridge and Tom Hall.

The main USA Tire building isn’t included in the plan. A second building operated by the business is part of the property owned by Sunbelt Ventures, developer of the Walmart plan.

The new Walmart grocery format will be the quarter size of a Supercenter site, and 20 percent smaller than the Harris Teeter approved earlier this year at Springfield Town Center. The more than $11 million investment should employ between 80 and 100 people.

The smaller size is a “very popular format” with customers, even when there’s a Supercenter nearby, company spokesman Bill Wertz said. Customers like the convenience and ability to easily navigate the Neighborhood Market, he said.

Walmart introduced its smaller format stores in 1998. Recently, company leaders announced plans to accelerate the growth of Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express stores nationwide, Wertz said. There are three in the pipeline for Rock Hill, he said.

“We’re excited at the commercial contribution to our tax base,” Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk said. “We’re also pleased that, at the same time, it will result in the revitalization of an empty, neglected retail space into a quality development.”

Mostly vacant since Food Lion moved to Avery Plaza in 2000, the shopping center now generates about $6,000 in annual tax revenue for the town and close to 24,000 for the county and school district. The new store should create an estimated $250,000 in total annual tax revenue, including $50,000 for the town. The rest would be split among the Fort Mill School District and York County.

“That’s about an 800 percent increase,” Cronin said.

Approximately 80 to 100 jobs will be created, according to an estimate from Sunbelt.

“This will be a great infill project of an existing property and we are very excited about the new Walmart Neighborhood Market coming to Fort Mill,” said Dennis Pieper, town manager.

The planning commission will take up Walmart’s plans at 7 p.m. May 27. Planning commission meetings are open to the public.

The new store will be the first Walmart of any kind in Fort Mill. Larger Walmart sites operate in Tega Cay and Indian Land.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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