W.P. Council Approves Shopping Center Plan
If all goes well, Whispering Pines could have a Food Lion by this summer.
During a special called meeting Tuesday, the Whispering Pines Village Council approved several revisions to a conditional-use permit, including one that will allow a two-phase construction plan for the shopping center, which will be developed by JDH Capital.
The actions by the council pave the way for ground to be broken and construction to begin on the proposed shopping center that will feature a Food Lion and other smaller stores.
The center, called Shops at Whispering Pines, is at the corner of N.C. 22 and Sullivan Avenue.
Groundbreaking is likely to occur before the end of the month.
The first phase includes the main building in the center, which will house the Food Lion and four smaller store fronts on either side of the grocery store. The second phase calls for two free-standing storefronts to the left of the Food Lion. Phase two currently has no start or completion date.
In addition to the phasing plan for the project and the conditional use revisions, the council also voted to approve the stormwater plan.
JDH Capital has been attempting to develop a shopping center in Whispering Pines for nearly three years. Developers first pitched their idea for a shopping center that would be the "gateway" to the village in March 2007. At that time, some residents felt the development would mar the charm of the village.
Residents raised concerns about whether the area could support such a shopping center, citing the failures of the Bi-Lo and Kmart in Southern Pines. Others were worried that opening up the village to a shopping center could pave the way for more invasive development.
From the beginning of that discussion, Mayor Bob Zschoche has maintained that the development would move forward only if it was beneficial to the village and to its residents.
The developer and residents who favored the shopping center have maintained that it is needed and desired by residents.
Zschoche said Wednesday that he was pleased with the plan so far.
"I think our minor revisions are in the best interest of the village and make it clear to the developer how they should proceed," Zschoche said.
In recent months, developers have worked closely with village staff and consultants to craft plans for landscaping and lighting. Those plans were approved in November.
A sign plan must still be approved, but is not needed before construction starts.
The Food Lion is one of two grocery stores proposed for that area in or near the village. A Harris Teeter grocery store is planned on land near the intersection of Airport Road and N.C. 22. That development is located in Southern Pines.
That development is on hold pending final approval of the realignment of N.C. 22 and Airport Road by the N.C. Department of Transportation. Developers hope to begin construction on the Harris Teeter in the first quarter of next year.
"They are very much ready to get started," said Southern Pines Town Manager Reagan Parsons. "But they are completely unable to do so."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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