When Rock Hill resident Debra Belk Haynes bought rental properties on Saluda Street about seven years ago, she hoped they would accumulate in value and spark more development.
But years later, that development is not quite realized. Haynes, president of the Saluda Corridor Neighborhood Association, and other members asked the Rock Hill City Council on Monday night to keep them involved in the future of the corridor.
The association formed in 2001 but didn't pick up steam until about 2008. It's an unusual mixture, Haynes said, because it includes both residents and business owners.
She said they have seen work along Cherry Road and Dave Lyle Boulevard. "But Saluda Street doesn't seem to get as much attention."
Haynes noted improvements from streetscaping to building code enforcement. There's fresh paint and repaired glass. She was encouraged by businesses such as the North Central Family Medical Center and Gaulden Monuments.
But association members point to the site of the Edison Mall as the key to redevelopment. The 3.5-acre site was once a Winn-Dixie, but it and other stores left the area in the 1980s and 1990s.
Last year, the City Council discussed buying the Edison Mall for $275,000, but ultimately did not reach an agreement to do so.
"Here we are a year later, and nothing's been done," Haynes said.
The vacant site is a "major eyesore," Haynes said, but association members believe with a little help, it can be much more.
The association had a list of concerns, but they presented the top five to the council Monday night. They are, in no particular order, developing business opportunities; improving the Edison Mall site; increasing police presence and enforcement; continuing to make sure property owners are up to code; and making efforts to eliminate the "negative" perception of the area.
Haynes said members will be happy to participate in all future discussions regarding Saluda Street.
"We want to put more emphasis on the Saluda corridor," she said. "Things are starting to happen, but there is so much more to be done. It is a better place than four or five years ago.
"We ask that you direct your resources - manpower and financial - to improving the important gateway to the city, which is also our neighborhood."
Ann Skar with the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. said they have had multiple meetings with the association and are impressed with their efforts.
Mayor Doug Echols thanked association members for what they've done.
The council passed the second and final reading for a rezoning request that will likely bring a Sam's Club or similar retailer to town.
Council members agreed to rezone nearly 40 acres along Dave Lyle Boulevard, Red River Road and Cross Pointe Drive to Planned Development Commercial. The council also annexed parts of Red River Road into the city.
Rock Hill developer Warren Norman already is developing 8 acres of the site for an Academy Sports + Outdoors Store, a $10 million project slated for a February opening.
The other project discussed is a 136,000-square-foot warehouse and retail space with a gas station. Reports last month mentioned it could be a Sam's Club, but city officials and Norman would not confirm that. The space is typical of big-box buildings such as Sam's Club, Costco and BJ Wholesale Club.
The council passed on a 4-3 vote a law clarifying the city's smoking designation. The new language defines a "retail tobacco store" as a retail store used for the sale of tobacco products and accessories and eliminates a line about the sale of other products being "incidental."
Voting for were Echols, Susie Hinton, Kathy Pender and Osbey Roddey. Voting against were Kevin Sutton, John Black and Jim Reno, citing concerns that the ordinance would open the city up to too many special exemptions.
A proposal passed unanimously to eliminate parking along John Ross Parkway near Manchester Meadows in an effort to alleviate traffic. Already home to numerous local and state tournaments, the soccer complex will host a national youth soccer tournament in 2012.