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Pawleys Plaza: Knocking down to build back up

  • Friday, January 17, 2014

Kimberly Duncan/For The Times

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Buildings at Pawleys Plaza were being knocked down this week to make way for new construction.

The piles of rubble at first bring to mind the debris along Front Street in Georgetown that remains after the Sept. 25 fire there.

This demolition, however, is done on purpose to make way for new construction, including a Publix supermarket, and a facelift for the shopping center along U.S. Highway 17 in Pawleys Island.

The plaza was at the center of a heated battled beginning in August 2012, when rumors started that a Mount Pleasant developer, Sunbelt Ventures, wanted to build a 119,500-square-foot Walmart on the site.

A group called “Don’t Box the Neck,” which had years before stopped a Lowe’s Home Improvement store from being built at the South Causeway, reorganized with a vengeance, determined to stop the project.

More than 1,000 people showed up when the project went before the Georgetown County Planning Commission and smaller, but no less vocal, crowds packed County Council meetings.

Council eventually approved the project with smaller buildings.

Two things happened as a result of the controversy:

County officials spent the better part of 2013 closing loopholes in the Zoning Ordinance which Sunbelt had tried to use to get the larger building approved; and the county’s Architectural Review Board was disbanded and all references to the it removed from the Zoning Ordinance after the board approved Sunbelt’s request for a variance on the county’s roof pitch requirement.

After the fight over Pawleys Plaza was settled, developers had a smoother time getting changes to the South Causeway Planned Development, where a Lowes Food store is being built.

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