Wal-Mart's makeover

The Tega Cay Wal-Mart few people wanted is setting the trend for Stonecrest, whose shops in front of the supercenter will mirror the Wal-Mart's village design.

"The town council wanted it to look and feel like a little town," said Scott Hallihan, managing partner for Stonecrest's developer. "We took Wal-Mart's design and made our buildings synergistic with theirs. Pedestrian-oriented. Wide sidewalks, fountains, plants."

Stonecrest stores will resemble village shops both along S.C. 160 and on the side facing Wal-Mart.

"We spent a lot of money to design the building," he said.

Many Tega Cay residents, envisioning a big, gray box and sprawling parking lot, protested when the supercenter was proposed. The town council established strict architectural standards and traffic patterns to protect their wooded, residential, recreational community.

Think kiosks, fountains, trees, flagpoles, a lanai, places where men and children can lounge while moms shop.

"We also aren't getting the usual discount retailers that follow Wal-Mart," Hallihan said. "It's mid-grade. Not boutique and not discount. That Wal-Mart is not your typical Wal-Mart Supercenter. We feel it's a nice community, and we want to put in shops as nice as possible."

Last week, Stonecrest's developers -- Metropolitan Development Group of Raleigh, N.C. -- were negotiating with a bank and a restaurant.

"It will be an upscale, casual restaurant," Hallihan said.

Other retailers that have been acquired include Sport Clips men's haircutting, a pizza chain, a game shop, a nail salon, a furniture/mattress store, a women's clothing store, a Chinese restaurant and a sandwich shop.

The 26,000 feet of retail shops on 5 acres at Stonecrest Boulevard and S.C. 160 is expected to be complete in mid-January, with stores opening in mid to late February. Some multi-family housing and more commercial development also is planned for the 140 acres at Stonecrest.

"We didn't have space for a fountain in this phase," Hallihan said, "but I want to do a fountain in future phases."

Envy of the Southeast

Tega Cay's Wal-Mart, expected to open by mid-2008, is becoming the envy of other towns that have a Wal-Mart in their future, a company representative said.

"People all over the Southeast are holding up the Tega Cay designs and saying, "Can we have this?" said Tara Stewart, the company's spokesperson in the Carolinas. "The Tega Cay store is totally unique."

There are also "a number of interior changes," Stewart said.

"Skylights," she said. "We spent too much time and money on the outside not to pay attention to the inside."

Wal-Mart also plans to put a Subway, PCA Portrait Studio, Smart Style Hair Salon and a Wood Forest Bank in the store.

Although wood and a variety of colors and textures outside will create the facade of village shops, the Wal-Mart will have just two main entrances. Two fountains, one at each end, and two gazebos accompanied by additional seating will adorn the front. This Wal-Mart also will feature a lanai with seating. The parking area will be dotted with trees and flowered planters.

According to Tega Cay Mayor Bob Runde, the flags of the United States, South Carolina and Tega Cay will fly from three flagpoles, and a Tega Cay police station will be housed inside.

Truckers dare not enter from I-77 via any route but Dam Road.

"We can fine them heavily, and we fine them more each time it happens," Runde said.

The amenities will not affect Wal-Mart prices, although the company's store managers do select merchandise geared to their clientele, Stewart said.

"Our buying power is extensive," she added. "The cost of a building doesn't affect the cost of a gallon of milk. It's apples and oranges."

If and when the Newport Wal-Mart is built, it also will have a design unique to that community.

"We began the community concept a few years ago," Stewart said. "In Belmont (N.C.), the store has a top like Belmont Abbey. The Charleston store has a Charleston green and Palmetto trees. The Los Angeles store is very art deco. In Abbeville, the store resembles mountain log cabins. We don't put in a big, gray box anymore."