As the retail giant Wal-Mart moves forward with plans for a third supercenter in Rock Hill, many residents who live near the proposed site say they welcome the store’s low prices for groceries and other goods.
Wal-Mart wants to build an 180,000-square-foot supercenter and a gas station at the southwest corner of the intersection of Saluda Street, Mt. Holly Road and Albright Road in southern Rock Hill. Recently, a company representative said no timeline for construction has been set, but it normally takes one year to build a supercenter.
City planning records show that Wal-Mart is looking to buy and develop more than 25 acres at the busy intersection, which includes a BP gas station, homes and recently installed Rock Hill identity gateway markers.
Part of that land borders the Country Club Apartment complex on Cedar Post Lane, off Saluda Street. Florin Daduica, owner of the apartment complex, said he thinks the new Walmart store will be positive for the area.
The store – which the company says will create 300 jobs – will be a convenient place for his tenants to shop and work, if they get a job at the supercenter, said Daduica, who bought the 80-unit apartment complex two years ago.
His tenants and other residents who live along Saluda Street and Albright Road now usually travel to Dave Lyle Boulevard to shop, he said.
The Walmart Supercenter on Dave Lyle Boulevard is about six miles away from the proposed Saluda Street supercenter location. Rock Hill’s other Walmart Supercenter – on S.C. 161 near Newport – is about nine miles from the future store’s site.
Daduica also said that the proposed Wal-Mart-run gas station on Saluda Street will help keep fuel prices low nearby.
There’s growing interest in building homes and developing land around the area where Wal-Mart wants to build, he said. With Rock Hill’s newest high school, South Pointe, nearby, he said, families seem interested in moving to Rock Hill’s southside. It’s natural, Daduica said, for Wal-Mart to set up shop as close as possible to its potential customers.
The Southland Park neighborhood is across Mt. Holly Road from the planned Walmart supercenter. The back of Walmart’s development will border some of Daduica’s property and some residential lots in the Country Club Estates neighborhood, off Country Club Drive.
Near the planned Walmart site are two new subdivisions, each with many homes finished and sold. The Roddey Park subdivision – off Saluda Street, on Bellingrath Boulevard – includes more than 70 homes, valued between $120,000 and $170,000.
True Homes of Charlotte built Roddey Park and the nearby Holly Hills subdivision. Holly Hills – located off Mt. Holly Road, on Shenandoah Circle – includes 160 homes, valued between $110,000 and $135,000.
Across Saluda Street from the Walmart site are 13 acres for sale which are currently zoned for residential use.
Shopping convenience is going to be a big plus for all Rock Hill residents living close to the new supercenter, says Kristin Railey-Kessling, a Country Club Estates resident. She said she has some concerns about how the new store and gas station will likely increase traffic by her neighborhood, she said.
Many of her neighbors say they’re concerned about property values plummeting when a Walmart moves in – particularly homeowners who live on Pinewood Lane, the Country Club Estates street that is closest to the development area. Neighbors have known about the Walmart plans for a couple of years, Railey-Kessling said.
While there’s some uncertainty about how the store will affect the neighborhood, she said, it’s likely she’ll shop at the nearby Walmart.
It’s not the supercenter by itself that raises concerns for Railey-Kessling and her husband – it’s the commercial development that will likely happen after Walmart establishes itself, she said. The couple moved to Rock Hill in 2007 from Annapolis, Md., because that state capital city was getting too crowded, she said.
Some new commercial investment to help the Saluda Street area is fine, she said, “but we don’t want it to become another Annapolis.”
Upset over smaller market
Some of Railey-Kessling’s concerns are similar to complaints other potential Walmart neighbors have made about a planned neighborhood-market store on Celanese Road. Many Swan Meadows residents who live near Ebinport Road oppose Wal-Mart plan to build a 42,000-square-foot grocery store on land now zoned residential that fronts Celanese Road, one of Rock Hill’s busiest thoroughfares.
The 14-acre site would include a Wal-Mart-run gas station and other retail or restaurant space.
The decision on the Celanese Road site rests with Rock Hill’s Planning Commission, which will consider the issue Jan. 7. Commission members will send their recommendation to City Council for a final decision on whether to annex the property and rezone the land.
A Wal-Mart representative has said his company has worked extensively with city officials and concerned neighbors to ensure its development does not negatively affect Swan Meadows. Part of Wal-Mart‘s plan includes building a buffer between the neighborhood market and nearby homes. But some Swan Meadows residents say no buffer is good enough to keep their property values safe and guarantee that increased traffic won’t disturb their neighborhood.
More than 200 people have signed an online petition asking the Planning Commission members to deny Wal-Mart’s requests.
Officials have said the Celanese Road Walmart market could open by the end of 2014.
Two other Walmart markets are planned for Rock Hill – one on Cherry Road, to be built where the Kickin’ Pig restaurant and Quick Clean Car Wash currently are. The other is planned for S.C. 5/West Main Street, across from Northwestern High School.
Wal-Mart officials say construction of the Mt. Holly Road and Saluda Street supercenter will begin once city building permits are obtained.
Plans for the new supercenter will be reviewed by Rock Hill development staff members but are not expected to go before City Council or the city’s Planning Commission.
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068