Fort Mill Times

Lowe's site ready for construction

As the landscape up and down Hwy. 521 changes, one piece of property has long remained the same.

But that won't be the case much longer.

Queensgate, a 44-acre Planned Development District at the corner of Hwy. 521 and Hwy. 160 East, has been in the planning stages for more than seven years. But the time is right, according to Queensgate developers, for retailers to begin moving onto the property.

In just a few months, construction at the site should begin on Lowe's Home Improvement, Queensgate's first retail business, developer Bryan Tuttle said.

Work is already underway behind-the-scenes. Last week, the Board of Zoning Appeals approved a request from Lowe's for a sign variance at the Queensgate site. Construction on the Lowe's will begin by midsummer, provided that permits and approvals continue to be approved in a timely manner, Tuttle said.

Other stores will be following Lowe's footsteps, Tuttle said, though he said he will not name the retailers eyeing the site until plans are finalized. A regional bank headquarters will call Queensgate home, he said, and he is talking with several restaurants interested in the center.

"There's just a tremendous demand for restaurants and both fast food and casual dining is something we really want to focus on and do in a really classy way," Tuttle said.

Down the highway from Queensgate, the site planned for a Wal-Mart supercenter on Hwy. 521 remains untouched. The Fort Mill Times first reported Wal-Mart's plans for a Panhandle store in 2005.

Lancaster County Planning Director Chris Karres said in an e-mail last week that as far as he is aware, plans for the Wal-Mart are still on track. He said he spoke with a Wal-Mart representative recently who said "work should start on the site shortly," according to Karres. He also confirmed that the big box retailer is planning to build on property closer to the N.C. state line, not further south, near Sun City Carolina Lakes, as some people speculated.

"It has always been my understanding that everything was on track but they were finalizing some of their permits," Karres said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Tara Stewart said the company has not decided when to build.