Officials: Lee making gains in commercial development

Many projects in progress, others in planning stages
Jan. 03, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

New construction is regarded by many economists as a key indicator of a community's economic health, and according to officials from the Sanford/Broadway/Lee County Planning and Community Development Department, the future looks brighter than it has of late.

Amy McNeill, a planner with the department that serves all three local governments in Lee County, said while new residential development was down in 2012, new commercial development was up.

"It shows that people think Sanford is a good place to come and do business," she said.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State, 42 new corporations — 15 each in October and November, and 12 in December — started in Lee County. It's unclear how many of those built new structures or additions, but the local planning department did provide a list of recently completed and ongoing construction that shows a mix of service industries, retail and other types of businesses that were either renovating or building new structures.

Bob Bridwell, the planning and development director for Sanford and Lee County, said a new BB&T branch on Horner Boulevard is one of the projects in which he's seen the most community interest. However, he added that other significant developments are under way and under consideration — and more are to come once the Hwy. 421 Bypass has been open for a little longer.

"Everybody's kind of waiting to see the impact of that before going ahead with many new projects," he said.

One company that's not waiting is Walmart. After being approved to build a dollar store-style franchise known as a Walmart Express in Broadway several months ago — and opening one in Carthage before that — the multinational company is now applying for a permit to build another Walmart Express on Tramway Road, near the intersection with U.S. 1 and across the street from the large shopping center development that's also expected to finish up sometime in 2013.

According to planning department records, the plan remains under review as the department waits for Walmart to submit all the necessary paperwork. At that same intersection stands the The Marketplace at Tramway Shopping Center, which is stalled until U.S. 1 is revamped and sewer service is extended to the site, according to records. No building permits have been issued yet, but a public information session is scheduled regarding the development at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the nearby McSwain Center.

Other projects now under way and expected to be finished in 2013 include:

- Liberty Sanford, a 53,953 square-foot skilled nursing facility at 3100 Tramway Road.

- Carolina Dialysis, a  9,221 square-foot dialysis center at 115 Wilson Road in the Shoppes at Sanford shopping center.

- Cloverleaf Cold Storage, a two-phase project that will include construction of both a 43,000 square-foot manufacturing/warehouse addition and an 87,000 square-foot freezer/cold storage area.

- Dexter's Bar & Restaurant, which may open at the site of the former Fat Cajun, at 103 Wicker St.

- Additions and renovations for a new, unnamed restaurant at the site of the former Tony's Seafood, at 1919 S. Horner Blvd.

- Construction of  a new 9,375 square-foot warehouse for Chatlee Boat & Marine at 2711 Jefferson Davis Highway.