West Ashley neighbors win battle against gas station plan Developer pulls proposal, could offer revisions later

The Northbridge Piggly Wiggly grocery store in West Ashley has remained vacant since 2013.

Neighbors opposed to a proposed gas station in West Ashley where a former Piggly Wiggly grocery store sits idle won a small victory Monday.

The developer, Faison & Associates LLC of Charlotte, withdrew the application for a Sunoco gas station at 43 Sumar St. ahead of a public meeting.

A company official did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday as for the reason for pulling the proposal.

The site plan, which drew criticism from neighborhood associations surrounding the triangular site at the juncture of Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and Old Towne Road, was scheduled to be reviewed Monday by Charleston’s Design Review Board. It included a brick convenience store, canopied gas pumps, a pond, landscaping and an arched, brick welcome to West Ashley sign.

The company may submit a revised proposal at a later date, according to Bill Turner, principal planner for the city.

Many nearby residents opposed the plan as the wrong use for the site, though some welcomed redevelopment of the old grocery store that has been vacant since 2013, when the once prominent Lowcountry grocer began to liquidate its assets.

Sue Stevens, chairwoman of the group that oversees neighborhoods in that section of West Ashley, didn’t think a gas station was an ideal reuse, but she thought it could suit the desires of the city and the property owner if it was designed correctly.

On Monday, she said the developer made a smart decision to step back with its plans.

“I think that was a wise choice on their part until everything is talked about some more,” said Stevens of the Old Charles Towne District Task Force.

She would like to see the city’s focus on redeveloping West Ashley expanded to include landscaping Sam Rittenberg from the Ashley River to Orange Grove Road, much like Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.

Beautifying the entrance into West Ashley could help invigorate interest in the corridor and “make it look more like a gateway,” she said.

Hack Ezell, president of the Sandhurst Civic Association, a group of 364 homeowners near the Piggly Wiggly site, said he is a little skeptical of Faison’s plans to pull the application.

“I hope they are rethinking the proposition and coming up with a rational plan not to go against the citizens in the neighborhood,” Ezell said.

He prefers a welcome center and farmers market combination or perhaps a hotel for the site.

“If you look at what’s needed in this area, we don’t need a gas station or a convenience store,” Ezell said. “We already have those.”

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.