Pawleys Island Plaza stirs mixed emotions

The Pawleys Island Plaza reconstruction plans are stirring up strong emotions for residents of Pawleys Island, but one business owner says it may be a blessing in disguise.

A Charleston based developer wants to change the plaza, as it is currently operating at 30 percent.

"We feel like redevelopment of this center with a national retail store as an anchor is the right move for this market," said DDC Engineer Mike Wooten.

Wooten says the rumors of the national retail store being a Wal-Mart are just that....rumors.

"Wal-Mart has not confirmed they're coming here. The developer, Sunbelt Properties, is talking to a number of national retail tenants," said Wooten. "Wal-Mart is a potential, but there's no guarantee that they're coming here."

According to the developers, Sunbelt Ventures, the anchor tenant will be no larger than 120,000 square feet.

The plans also include to re-vamp the current strip mall to match other shopping areas in Pawleys Island.

Small business owner and Pawleys Island Plaza tenant Frank Capalbo says an upgrade could save his business.

"It's not as nice a shopping center as most of the places here in Pawleys Island," said Capalbo.

Capalbo has owned Sweet Man's Baked Goods since May.

"If we can survive in this economy that's going on right now, if we can make it in a year, then we'll be okay," said Capalbo.

He says his store is currently hidden from the street, he doesn't have proper lighting or proper signs on his store.

"Personally I want to see nice go in, I want to see something nice happen to this plaza," said Capalbo. "I've been here for almost 22 years, I remember when this plaza was the place to go in Pawleys Island, it was the only place to go in Pawleys Island, so I've seen it at its peak. I've seen it at its bottom, and I'd like to see it be a nice place again."

But as a long time resident, Capalbo also understands the opposition.

"I would love to see Pawleys Island stay Pawleys Island," said Capalbo.

There will be a public information meeting on the redevelopment of Pawleys Island Plaza on September 17th. The meeting will be held at the Worship Center at the Pawleys Island Community Church at 10304 Ocean Highway from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

There will be a presentation by the developers and then a hour for public comment and Q & A.

Wooten says the anchor tenant will not be announced at the meeting.

The residents who have come out against the potential big box store have set up a website and Facebook pages. To see them, click here, here, and here.

They've also started a petition. A link to that is here.

Those in opposition also plan to attend a public hearing by the Georgetown County Planning Commission. That will be at 5:30pm in the Waccamaw High School auditorium.