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Council approves River Oaks annexation, incentive package

Posted: July 2, 2018 4:18 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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With no discussion whatsoever during its June 26 meeting, Camden City Council unanimously -- minus Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford, who was attending a mayor’s conference out of state -- approved first reading of ordinances annexing the River Oaks Shopping Center and offering an incentive package to Bright-Meyers 2001 LCC of Georgia to redevelop the commercial property. The votes came after an approximately 25-minute long executive session to discuss the matters.
The first ordinance, if passed on second and final reading at a subsequent reading, would annex the 13.72-acre property at 2209 and 2235 West DeKalb St. into the city. The former home of Kmart would be assigned interim zoning of Commercial Mixed Use.

The second ordinance, if also passed on second and final reading, would approve an incentive package with Bright-Meyers as the developers. The actual incentive documents, which were attached to Tuesday night’s agenda prior to the meeting, named Bright-Meyers as having an “exclusive right” to purchase the shopping center from current owners Wateree Associates Inc., which petitioned for the annexation.

The proposed incentives from the city include:

• Paying the costs of constructing and installing utility infrastructure, including relocating water and sewer mains and extending such services to the property.

• Rebating water and sewer tap, meter, permitting, impact, zoning, plan review and building permit fees (which Bright-Meyers would pay up front) after the completion of the project and within 30 days of being issued a certificate of occupancy.

• A façade improvement grant of up to $30,000.

According to a preliminary utility plan drawn up by Freeland and Kauffman Inc. of Greenville for Bright-Meyers, the space taken up by the former Kmart and existing shops at River Oaks would be reconfigured into a total of seven retail spaces of 3,000, 6,000, 15,250, 18,482, 22,000, 32,000 and 50,000 square feet. What might have been names of potential and/or existing tenants were blacked out on the plan.

In addition, the plan shows an 8,400-square-foot freestanding retail building close to the northwest entrance of the shopping center, which is almost immediately available to drivers coming off the Wateree River bridge into the city. No name -- blacked out or otherwise -- was written on the plan for that building.

Council also unanimously voted to approve first reading of an ordinance assigning permanent R6 residential zoning to recently annexed property on Black River Road that is being planned as a new residential subdivision.

After the three votes, Councilman Jeffrey Graham, acting in his role as mayor pro tem, said that it was “very exciting to see” both people and business interested in coming to Camden.

“I think that is significant, and I think that is very important to the future of what the city has been doing and the work of our staff and our council,” Graham said. “People and businesses are wanting to come into the city, and I think that is great news and I think you will see many more of those opportunities, whether it’s housing or whether it’s business.”

Also during the June 26 meeting, several council members acknowledged Kershaw County’s being named an All-America City community. Councilwoman Joanna Craig reminded council that the city had promised -- should the county win the award -- to set aside funds to repaint the city’s water tower with signage proclaiming the designation.

“I think we need to think about that consideration at some point down the road,” Craig said.

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