Harris Teeter to anchor proposed W. Ashley project

This section of the West Ashley Circle is the first quarter that was completed in 2006 near an existing Wal-Mart. Now, a Harris Teeter-anchored shopping center is being proposed for the area.

Charleston's long-standing plan to develop a pedestrian-friendly retail hub around the intersection of Bees Ferry Road and Glenn McConnell Parkway is gaining momentum after plans were recently submitted to the city for a new shopping center in the area.

The new retail center is planned for nearly 16 acres along Grand Oaks Boulevard, directly across Bees Ferry Road from Wal-Mart.

Plans submitted to the Charleston Technical Review Committee by local developer Rivers Enterprises Inc. include renderings for a 53,000-square-foot Harris Teeter, five smaller retail buildings and two large outparcels arranged around an expansive parking lot.

Residents of the new Grand Oaks community would have direct access to the center without having to travel on busy Bees Ferry.

The technical review of the project is the first of a series of steps the city must take before developers are given permission to build the center, so it's unclear when it will be completed. Rivers Enterprises declined to comment on the project.

For more than 10 years the city has discussed the construction of West Ashley Circle, a large ring of roads around the parkway and Bees Ferry Road that would encase a downtown-type of environment in an area of West Ashley that is still largely undeveloped.

The proposed shopping center is the first activity the project has seen since the first quarter of the circle was built several years ago to service a Wal-Mart.

The vision for the rest of the circle is to fill in the vacant space in front of the superstore and the other two quadrants with mixed-use developments, Charleston planner Tim Keane said.

"Along those three quadrants we would expect office development, retail, maybe even residential above those offices and retail spaces, just a great variety and mixture of things," he said.

Keane added that work to complete the circle will begin in the next few months, and that it's on "parallel paths" with construction of the new retail center.

It will cost $5 million to complete the road project, which will be paid for with Charleston County's special half-cent sales tax. The city of Charleston is handling the design work, and the county will oversee construction.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail