Tega Cay Wal-Mart taking shape

Construction progress on the Wal-Mart in Tega Cay off S.C. 160.
Construction progress on the Wal-Mart in Tega Cay off S.C. 160.

TEGA CAY -- The Wal-Mart under construction off S.C. 160 is beginning to look like a town Main Street, and a pending rezoning request would give most of the remaining Stonecrest development a village ambiance.

Herman Stone, owner of the original property, met last week with Tega Cay officials to see what look they want for 29 acres on the development's north side bordering S.C. 160, Stonecrest Boulevard and Hubert Graham Way.

Both Stone and town officials walked away from the meeting with smiles. Stone plans to request rezoning for 17 commercial acres and 12 more currently zoned for high-density residential.

"It's going to complement Wal-Mart," Stone said. "Individual shops with second-story windows. A township feeling."

The 17 acres along S.C. 160 is expected to be rezoned from one classification, which would allow a strip mall look with a large parking lot, to another classification that would require clusters of shops with parking around them, more pedestrian-friendly areas and wider sidewalks, perhaps with tables for sipping coffee and eating ice cream, landscaping and a small village atmosphere.

Stone originally planned 12 acres more for 74 townhomes along Hubert Graham Way but plans to request it be rezoned so he can put village-like shops and restaurants on it.

"That will take the residential burden off the schools and provide a commercial tax base for the city," Stone said. "It will be a tremendous tax base for Tega Cay for years to come."

It's possible another mini-anchor retail store also will reside on the 29 acres, but Stone agrees it should not look like a big box.

City Councilman John Dervay, council liaison to the city's planning commission, said talks with Stone resulted in something "better than we expected."

"I've been working on this property now for 11 years," Stone said. "We are listening to what the citizens on these boards want to see, and we are endeavoring to do what they want."

Eventually, Hubert Graham Way will be extended to Gold Hill Road, said Chris Rice, Tega Cay's planning director. The city will be responsible for a small portion near Stonecrest, and "Pennies for Progress," tax dollars voters approved to improve York County's road system, will finance the rest.

Wal-Mart itself was controversial when first proposed because Tega Cay residents did not want a big box surrounded by asphalt in their bucolic city. City officials, aware Tega Cay needed services that could not be provided by homeowner taxes alone, fought long and hard for the village look their Wal-Mart will have. In the process, they gained a reputation throughout the Southeast region, said a Wal-Mart spokesman, and the Tega Cay design has become a model for future Wal-Marts elsewhere.

Stone and his wife recently visited the Tega Cay Wal-Mart, Stone said.

"The Wal-Mart looks like a village," he said. "That was the whole idea. That it would not be a big box, but have some personality."