Wednesday, September 4, 2013
After being an eyesore for a decade, the former Food Lion shopping center that has been abandoned will receive a facelift.
Goose Creek City Council took the first step in annexing the property into the city with a unanimous vote at a special meeting Aug. 29. It was the first of two readings; the second is expected to take place Sept. 10.
The Plantation Square shopping center was an enclave in Berkeley County that was surrounded by the city but not in the city limits.
Food Lion donated the property to the University of South Carolina Foundation. Since then, it decayed and was never annexed. In January the property was sold to a company that builds and manages storage facilities.
Since then the property has fallen further into disrepair. On Aug. 29 the new owner, Albert Heyward, presented his storage facility plans to council. Those plans will need to be approved before any work takes place.
“It’s been a burr in my side as the mayor and a continuing problem for city council,” Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler said. “It’s been a problem and an ugly moldering building.”
Many citizens have complained and asked questions at city council meetings. The response was often the same: the city does not own the property and annexation attempts did not prove fruitful.
“We’re thrilled,” Heitzler said. “It’s going to look better in the months to come. I’d love to have small shops and restaurants, but the owner said the demand is for storage.”
The storage spaces will be built in various stages, the mayor said.
“We will bring the building into architectural compliance,” Heitzler said. “I’m delighted we’re taking this first step.”
He said he thought the building was an embarrassment to USC.
“It was an eyesore,” councilmember John McCants said. “Every week we have a complaint about this property. It will be a different story by the first of the year.
“We’ll be able to broadcast this answer every time we go into a meeting. We will monitor this property to make sure it meets the standards of the city of Goose Creek.
“They gave us a plan. It will be in phases. We’ll monitor every step. It’s a relief. It’ll make a difference.”
The facility will be named Universal Storage Solutions at Plantation Square.
Heyward said for seven years he has been looking to build a storage facility in Goose Creek. While this was not the first location he looked at, he said he is excited to move forward.
“I would not give up on it,” Heyward said. “I’m like a bulldog. I’m a Citadel graduate and a retired Marine. It was really something that was needed in the area. Great location and great people to work with. The staff in Goose Creek couldn’t be any better.
“They asked us to come into the city and we felt like the additional fire and police protection would be a good move and the right thing to do. When you’ve got a willing developer on a good piece of property that has been maligned we’re going to have a great project.”
The storage facility and offices will be built in two phases. The first phase consists of renovating the existing building, which will in part cover boats and RVs, Heyward said.
In the second phase, three buildings will be added to the parking lot. Another lot will be available for purchase or future development.
Heyward said he hopes the facility will be up and running by Dec. 1.
The economic climate made it difficult to receive a loan for some time, Heyward said, but he said Ameris Bank in Charleston came through for him. “After seven years I’m really excited,” he said.