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Retail & Shopping Centers

MPC approves plan for new Walmart Neighborhood Market on Wilshire; 32 properties will be taken

Category: Retail & Shopping Centers

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

October 17, 2014 – The Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) has approved master plan changes that will allow the development of a new 40,000 sq. ft. ‘Walmart Neighborhood Market’ to be located between Abercorn St. and White Bluff Rd, facing Wiltshire Rd, and incorporating all the homes on Redwood Circle.

MPC also approved a grocery store and gasoline station sought by Walmart for the site, as well as some outparcels in the area.

In 2014, Walmart announced it would double its small store growth in 2014, with an expectation that as many as 300 new Walmart Express and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores would be opened by year’s end.  The company recently gained master plan approval for a similar Walmart Neighborhood Market model store in Statesboro on Brampton Avenue.

It’s a new, smaller model Walmart store concept which the company has been testing in various areas of the country as consumer shopping in ‘big box’ stores is fading.  Walmart has been testing the Neighborhood Market format and other smaller type stores in the Midwest and Texas for several years including a Walmart Express and a Walmart To Go model.  But the concept approved by the MPC will the first in the Savannah metro area, or in Coastal Georgia.  Several Neighborhood Markets have also been announced for South Carolina.   

At the Oct. 7 MPC meeting, Polestar Development, LLC, represented by Atty. Rob Brannen of Bouhan Falligant LLP in Savannah, submitted amendments to the conceptual master plan, including conditions which were approved in 2001 in conjunction with rezoning of the subject property to a Planned-Community-Business (P-B-C) district applying the “extraordinary and unusual” provision of Sec. 8-3031(D)(1)(a).

Charlotte Moore, AICP, who the MPC’s Director of Special Projects, is the MPC project planner on the project.   

In 2001 the City of Savannah Mayor and Aldermen rezoned the subject property, including a multi-family development (Moss Gate apartments) to a P-B-C district with a master plan. The Planning Commission had recommended a PUD-B-N (Planned Unit Development-Neighborhood Business).

The rezoning included 32 properties that were under multiple ownership—as they are now—which were to be sold to allow the development of a department store and several outparcels. Despite the rezoning, the proposed development was not built at that time.  In 2012, the apartments were removed from the master plan.

At the time of rezoning, the Mayor and Aldermen adopted the following conditions:

1) The only use to be permitted north of Wilshire Boulevard was a department store only;

2) The only uses to be permitted south of Wilshire Boulevard were sit-down restaurants (not including drive-ins and drive-thrus), banks, and a “retail center” which could not include package stores;

3) A “wall/buffer and a visual screen” were required along White Bluff Road to protect adjacent land uses and the roadway;

4) Unloading areas were to be screened from adjacent residential uses, White Bluff Road and Abercorn Street;

5) The size of the development was to be contingent upon “traffic mitigation factors to minimize the degradation of traffic service levels along Abercorn and White Bluff; and,

6) The sale of City-owned rights-of-way within the subject property at fair market value.”

These conditions and more information appear on the City Council minutes from September 6, 2001.

Last week, Walmart was asking the MPC to amend the approved master plan to change the permitted uses and physical layout of the development. Though not specifically requested but based on the master plan submitted… “it appears that all of the approved site conditions (not including the sale of rights-of-way) are proposed to change. The master plan shows four parcels: an anchor parcel with 5.06 acres, a fuel station parcel with 0.68 acres, and two parcels with uses not yet known that are 1.90 acres and 2.73 acres, respectively. It is likely that the latter two parcels will be further divided to create out parcels,” according to the MPC’s agenda and staff report from last week.

The petitioner is also seeking approval of a general development plan (which is also the same sheet as the master plan) for a proposed grocery store and fuel station, also discussed by the MPC at the Oct 7 meeting.

The general development plan is a separate report, and approval of the plan must be contingent upon the approval of the requested master plan amendment by the Mayor and Aldermen.

“Because the master plan addresses the entire tract, including future parcels to be developed, some site-related issues were addressed by the MPC staff in its report to the MPC commissioners.

PHOTO:  Intersection of Abercorn Street and Wiltshire, looking South, across from Parker's convenience store on the northeast corner of the intersection.

© Copyright by 2014, a digital publication of Coastal Empire News, Savannah, GA. All Rights Reserved.


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    • Guest - JR Lee

      Great, another complex to attract Savannah's finest entitlement minded individuals. Another complex that will collect trash and never be cleaned by our corrupt city government further signifying the decline not only in this community, but others similar to it. I bet this doesn't get published!

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