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Pawleys Plaza: Planners expect new proposal without big-box store

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A new plan for Pawleys Island Plaza will replace a portion of the existing shopping center with a 60,000-square-foot retail space, according to people familiar with the project.

A proposal for a 119,500-square-foot big-box store as part of a redevelopment of the site was deferred by Georgetown County Council this week at the request of the owner, Sunbelt Development. That project, initially proposed for a Walmart, met opposition from the community.

The county zoning ordinance limits commercial buildings to 60,000 square feet in the Highway 17 corridor on Waccamaw Neck.

Sunbelt proposes to demolish all of the existing center except a 33,000 square foot portion originally used as a grocery store. It will add the 60,000 square feet to that, but keep the spaces separate.

“That’s what I’m hearing,” said Boyd Johnson, the county planning director. “I haven’t seen it yet.”

Council Member Bob Anderson said that’s the plan that was proposed when he met with Dusty Wiederhold, a partner in Sunbelt Ventures.

“What he presented to me was sort of a hybrid,” Anderson said.

The county approved a renovation of the center in 2008 for a previous owner that expanded the main building to 84,000 square feet. Wiederhold, who could not be reached this week, has said Sunbelt wanted to retain that feature of the existing plan.

Johnson said the county’s opinion is that the 84,000 square feet are only available if the 2008 plan is followed.

Anderson said he told Wiederhold, “you can’t do that,” when shown what amounts to a 99,000 square foot building.

Johnson said he couldn’t comment until he sees the actual plan.

A draft was shown to attorneys for Don’t Box the Neck, the citizens group that opposed the original big-box plan.

Amy Armstrong said she and Bob Moran were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. They showed the plan to the committee.

SueAnn Crawford, who chairs Don’t Box the Neck, said she couldn’t comment until the plan is filed.

“I’m hoping we’ll get it this week,” Johnson said.

Council is due to give the second of three readings to the project on Jan. 8. Staff will make a report on any change.

“It’s totally up to council whether they are comfortable with it,” he said.

A vote could be deferred again to allow additional time for review, Anderson said.

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