Big-box stores may come to Mount Pleasant

MOUNT PLEASANT -- The heart of town when it comes to shopping could be getting a lot bigger.

A developer envisions putting nearly 400,000 square feet of commercial, retail and restaurants across from Towne Centre, creating an estimated 260 full-time jobs.

The firm said it is under contract to buy 40 acres along U.S. Highway 17 known as the Gregg Tract. There, it would locate a $35 million complex that it projects would generate $235 million in annual sales.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider Henrich Properties' application to develop the Gregg Tract on Feb. 22. The firm seeks business zoning for the property, which is now zoned for residential use.

The application does not identify specific businesses that would occupy the shopping center. A traffic analysis in the document assumes they include a home improvement superstore and a discount club.

Lowe's is located across the street in Towne Centre. Home Depot has yet to come to Mount Pleasant, which also does not have a Costco or Sam's Club.

"The Gregg Tract will introduce all new retail outlets to the Town of Mount Pleasant, with the exception of the home improvement business model," the application states.

A drawing of the project shows three buildings, parking and surrounding neighborhoods. Two of the buildings are about the same size -- 135,000 square feet each. The third building is about 70,000 square feet.

Discount chains such as Costco average 145,000 square feet at their customer warehouses, while Home Depot stores average 105,000 square feet of enclosed space, according to investor-related websites.

The Gregg Tract is surrounded by subdivisions such as Montclair, Snee Farm, Wando Lakes and Wando East. Tire Kingdom, Starbucks, Walgreens and Auto Express of Charleston also are nearby.

The company has been communicating directly with the surrounding neighborhood associations in an effort to keep residents informed of its plans, said Holly Henrich, vice president of operations.

Many national retailers have expressed an interest in the Gregg Tract project.

"We're excited about it. We believe that the town as a whole is excited about it," Henrich said.

The project would lead to more traffic. If it is built, 12,500 more vehicle trips would happen daily during the week, according to an analysis prepared for Henrich Properties. The shopping center would have parking for 1,500 cars.

Ongoing transportation improvement projects -- including the widening of U.S. 17 from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to near Wando High School -- are expected to ease congestion, the application states.

The project will be constructed in phases based on economic and market conditions. It is anticipated that it will take about five years to complete.

Construction of the first phase is expected to begin in the summer, according to the application.

Henrich, based in Mount Pleasant, is working in conjunction with Fairfield, Conn.-based Ceruzzi Holdings LLC, described as an experienced shopping center development company with accomplished projects throughout the Northeast.