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Camden to consider annexing Kmart shopping center

Posted: June 25, 2018 5:07 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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Many people are surprised when they learn that the River Oaks Shopping Center, which used to house Kmart on West DeKalb Street, is not in the city limits of Camden. That may stop being a problem as early as tonight as Camden City Council considers first reading of an ordinance annexing the property and assigning it an interim zoning classification of Commercial Mixed Use, or CMU, during its meeting tonight.

Following housekeeping matters and a public forum, if anyone signs up for it, council’s first order of business will be to enter executive session to discuss “a contractual matter related to economic development.”

Council will then take up the annexation ordinance when it returns to open session. It will then also take up first reading of an ordinance approving the execution and delivery of an incentive agreement related to the annexation.

River Oaks is actually made up of three lots combined into two addresses, at 2209 West DeKalb St., the former Kmart; and 2235 West DeKalb St., which still houses Big Lots, City Trends, H. Rubin Vision Center and Medi Home Care. The city annexed a portion of the 2209 lot in 2012 as part of a deal to bring Chick-fil-A to Camden. It opened the following year.

Kmart closed its doors in Camden during the summer of 2016. The building has not had a permanent tenant since, although it has been used on at least one occasion for temporary business.

The petition for annexation, dated March 23, is signed by Allen S. Guinard and Charles C. Thompson, mangers, respectively, of Wateree Associates Inc. and Indigo Associates Inc. Online records show the lots are owned by Wateree Associates, care of Thompson & Company Inc.

The ordinance approving the incentive agreement notes that “An entity, which has requested that its identity be kept confidential for business reasons (the “Developer”) is considering developing certain commercial property within the County (the “Project”). However, the actual agreement lists Bright-Meyers 2001 LLC, a Georgia limited liability company, as one of the parties.

Bright-Meyers entered into an agreement to purchase Capital City Stadium from the city of Columbia in 2011 in order to redevelop it as retail space. Initial plans included having a Walmart locate there, but the retail giant decided not to do so. By 2014, it appeared Kroger would serve as the site’s anchor, but also declined to make a home there. Columbia’s city council voted to extend that city’s agreement with Bright-Meyers for a 10th time last November.

Bright-Meyers has worked on other retail sites, including Knox Abbot Village in Cayce; Cedar Springs in Spartanburg; Town Center Market in Cobb County, Ga.; and Westside Village in Pensacola, Fla. Most of its developments have included Walmart as an anchor.

Camden’s incentive agreement shows that Bright-Meyers intends to purchase the property, and that the city will pay the costs to construct and install certain utility infrastructure, including the relocation of existing water and sewer mains and extend water and sewer services to the property as needed. While Bright-Meyers would pay various fees up front, the city would rebate all of the fees once its project is completed, within 30 days of when a certificate of occupancy is issued. Bright-Meyers will also be eligible for a façade grant of up to $30,000.

A utility plan of the proposed project attached to the incentive agreement appears to show that the buildings would be reconfigured to house six businesses. It appeared that possible names of those businesses were listed on the plan, but had been blacked out by the city before attaching it to the agenda for tonight’s meeting. It was unclear if any of the current tenants are among the business whose names are blacked out on the plan.

In addition, the plan calls for an additional 8,400 square foot retail building to be constructed at the northwest corner of the property, close to the U.S. 1 bridge going over the Wateree River.

The only other business on tonight’s agenda is first reading of an ordinance assigning a final zoning classification of R6 to recently annexed property on Black River Road, which is planned to become a new residential subdivision.

Today’s meeting begins at 6 p.m.; there is no afternoon work session.

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