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More shops coming to River Oaks Shopping Center
River Oaks 1
Five Below, a “tweens to teens” variety store, is set to open June 21 next to Hobby Lobby at River Oaks Shopping Center in Camden. At left are two spaces created when developers enclosed the former Kmart’s garden center. Camden Economic Development Director Suzi Sale has confirmed the first space, at far left, will be leased to Eggs Up Grill, a breakfast and lunch restaurant. - photo by Martin L. Cahn/C-I
River Oaks 2
Crews continue working on an 8,000-square-foot outparcel at River Oaks Shopping Center. Camden Economic Development Director Suzi Sale said Jersey Mike’s, Aspen Dental and an unnamed business have agreed to become tenants there. - photo by Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Eggs Up Grill. Jersey Mike’s. Aspen Dental.

These are the three newest names of businesses coming to the River Oaks Shopping Center, according to Camden Economic Director Suzi Sale.

“Eggs Up Grill will be going in at the very end of what used to be the Kmart garden center,” Sale said during a telephone interview Tuesday after rumors swirled on Facebook that the breakfast and lunch restaurant would be coming to Camden.

As part of the shopping center’s revitalization, the garden center was enclosed to accommodate two potential tenants. Sale said a variety of businesses have looked at the space between what will be Eggs Up Grill and Five Below -- a store that caters to “tweens and teens” with a variety of items for $5 or less. Five Below has already announced it will open June 21.

Next door is Hobby Lobby, which opened Monday to quite a bit of fanfare. Marshall’s is still set to open sometime this summer.

Sale also said three businesses have agreed to lease space in the 8,000-square-foot outparcel built on the site. She said Jersey’s Mike’s sub sandwich shop will locate there, as well as Aspen Dental. Sale could not disclose the third potential tenant due to ongoing negotiations.

In addition, Sale confirmed that Petsense -- purchased by Tractor Supply Co. in 2016 -- is still coming to River Oaks, but could not confirm exactly where it will be located. Sketch plans for the shopping center’s revitalization showed it going where Citi Trends recently vacated on the other side of Big Lots.

Remaining space to the right of that, vacated in 2018 by an eye glass company and medical device retailer, is still waiting for prospective tenants, Sale said.

Sale had no information on possible other sites around Camden, including the old Bi-Lo Shopping Center off West DeKalb and Wylie streets, the former Burndale Plaza or available locations off U.S. 521 between Black River Road and I-20 Exit 98.

She did say, however, that things are looking good for the city in terms of commercial interest.

“There is so much stuff going on,” Sale said. “Everybody is looking at us, especially in the Springdale area right now.”

Meanwhile, the city of Camden announced Tuesday the city is being awarded a $300,000 2019 Brownfields Assessment grant in support of its ongoing revitalization and redevelopment efforts. Camden is one of only two communities in South Carolina to receive these funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to be used to spur more investment in and redevelopment of vacant/unused commercial properties throughout the city.

“The city of Camden is extremely honored and grateful to be awarded this EPA grant,” Drakeford said in a press release issued at Tuesday’s council meeting. “The clarification of environmental concerns at our priority redevelopment sites will promote the reuse of our properties and buildings. If redeveloped, these sites will be ready for new commercial or residential use. I also want to thank city staff for their tenacity in pursuing this opportunity, another powerful tool in our economic development tool box.”

According to City Manager Mel Pearson, the city’s historical dependence on certain types of industries and petroleum-related business has left numerous brownfield and blighted sites along the city’s key corridors for commercial and residential growth.

“Coupled with Camden’s position as designated Opportunity Zone, making brownfields sites available for redevelopment in areas with existing infrastructure will help us continue to strengthen Camden’s economic competitiveness,” Pearson said in the release. “Our goal is to attract investment and redevelopment that will transform these sites into community assets that not only enhance our economic development potential and create jobs, but also improve public health and the environment.”

According to Pearson, Camden will use the funds to conduct five “Phase I” and four “Phase II” environmental site assessments, and develop one cleanup plan. Also, community-wide petroleum grant funds will be used to conduct three “Phase I” and two “Phase II” environmental site assessments, and develop one cleanup plan. Grant funds of both types also will be used to conduct community involvement activities.

“The city of Camden is challenged by a handful of key brownfields sites and properties that represent priority targets for redevelopment,” Sale said in the press release. “Sites include commercial properties, dry cleaning facilities, landfills, maintenance facilities, small manufacturing plants, and gas stations. Improvement at these sites is crucial to the city’s economic vitality.”

According to the EPA, a brownfield is a property where its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment. The EPA Brownfields Program was established in 1995.