New Fort Mill commercial center praised as boon for Tom Hall District

FORT MILL -- A couple dozen community and business leaders were on hand Friday to announce the grand opening of Fort Mill's newest commercial center, the Shoppes at Town Square.

The center, located at the corner of Tom Hall Street and Doby's Bridge Road, encompasses about 11,000 square feet. The retail strip's owner, Phil Nase, moved his State Farm Insurance office into 1,500 square feet there last spring. Pro Nails and Advance America Cash Advance have opened in the center as well, and so has Carolina Professional Dentistry.

Nase said the Shoppes are 60 percent occupied with 5,000 square feet left to sell. He's said he's confident that 2,000 to 3,000 square feet on one end will be filled by "a food-service operation" of some kind.

"It has to be some sort of food establishment. That's what we want it to be," Nase said, adding the disclaimer that he could be flexible if someone wanted to take the entire 5,000 square feet remaining for another use.

"This is a fine example of what we're trying to accomplish with the Tom Hall (Corridor Overlay Zoning) District," Mayor-elect Danny Funderburk said. "As Phil said, it can be a catalyst for other development. Folks need some place to eat and shop."

The recently created district covers all property zoned highway commercial from Main Street to Springfield Parkway, including the intersection of Tom Hall Street and Doby's Bridge Road. It's designed to create a pedestrian-friendly environment that promotes commercial and retail uses consistent with a downtown business district. It has high standards for landscaping and building design and decreased setbacks with an emphasis on shared parking.

Among the business types not welcome in the district are research and development labs, retail buildings larger than 15,000 square feet, plant nurseries, convenience stores, coin laundries, crematories, car washes or repair garages, warehouses -- including mini and personal storage -- dealerships of any kind, tire shops and wrecker services.

It also bans payday loan services, but Advance America was grandfathered in.

Before cutting a ribbon in front of the Shoppes sign, Nase said he hoped it would serve as an example to future developments in the area and that his project will "inspire more developers to bring in a better class of building."

With the town's passage of the overlay district, Nase said his center and others that come in the future will be part of the economic engine driving Fort Mill.

"This (retail development) is what the surrounding area is going to follow," Nase said. "It's becoming more pedestrian-friendly on this side of town, and other investors are going to come in and follow suit. We're dedicating this to the community."

The Rev. Phillip Cargile, pastor at the Volunteer Faith Center, located behind the Shoppes, said the development "is a wonderful thing for the community."

"It enhances the property around it and will stimulate other growth," he said.

Even though the Volunteer Faith Center had looked into purchasing some of the land the Shoppes now occupies, Cargile said the project has his full support, and that of other community groups.

"This has got to enhance the community," he said. "And it will help property values, too."