Pete Lang, already a player in downtown commercial real estate, is getting serious consideration to develop an open, two-acre lot near the intersection of North White and Clebourne streets under a public/private partnership with the Town of Fort Mill.
Fort Mill holds an 88-year lease on the property, and has been looking for the right partner to turn it into a mixed-use engine for downtown redevelopment.
"When you have an opportunity to redevelop a property in a downtown, the surrounding property owners benefit, everyone in town benefits," Fort Mill Planning Director Andy Merriman said. "We have 25,000 cars circulating through downtown each day and we're capturing zero."
Town leaders envision a restaurant as an anchor for the development and potentially some office, retail and residential uses as well. However, nothing has been set in stone, and it will be up to Lang or another company to gauge interest in the project over the next year, Merriman said.
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Fort Mill-based Conservation By Design, run by Lang, and Charlotte-based LV Realty, the company developing RiverChase on Doby's Bridge Road, both submitted dossiers to the Fort Mill Town Council. No votes were taken, but Merriman said, "by consensus" the council decided to move forward with CBD.
"Pete's invested in downtown already, he has two buildings ... and he's a local boy," Merriman said.
The council, which met Monday morning, didn't have to vote on exploring a move with Lang's company because it's not in the contract stage. A public vote would have to be held and the deal approved before the partnership would be considered official.
Neither Lang nor anyone from LV Realty returned calls for comment before press time Monday.
A more concrete plan should be in the works by this time next year, Merriman said.
"This will be a learning process for everyone involved," he said. "This is our first venture into the public/private partnership world that has worked well in a lot of other places."
Fort Mill has also been working to include a veteran's memorial park next to the mixed-use development on the same parcel, and had asked companies interested in bidding for the project to keep that in mind.
The land is zoned local commercial, but Merriman said zoning could change if necessary. It depends on what plan is eventually presented. The town council will have the final say on any development plan.
"At one time, downtown Fort Mill supported the whole town, and this is the first step back in that direction," Merriman said. "We have so many rooftops in downtown, and with gas heading for $4 a gallon this summer, it would be great to have something for people to be able to walk to."