In the next 18 months, every aspect of a proposed 700,000-square-foot shopping center in Greenwood will be vetted in detail — from the number of trees and shrubs to access roads and parking spaces.
The new Greenwood Town Center planned off County Line Road, east of Interstate 65, would be the largest development to come to Greenwood since ULTA Beauty built a 670,000-square-foot distribution center last year, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
Before construction can begin on retail space or restaurants, the new shopping center will need multiple approvals from the city and that can take as much as three months.
So far, the developers of the new shopping center, Gershman Properties, have not filed any plans with the city. The initial goal was to begin construction this year, or early next year, planning director Bill Peeples said.
Myers is not concerned nothing has been filed yet, he said. The designing and planning can’t be done until tenants for the shopping center are found, so it will be a timely process, he said.
“They have to find tenants before they can put together a plan for the whole area and design it. This was never going to be an overnight process,” Myers said. “Nothing will be filed until they find tenants. I assume we’ll hear something soon, though.”
Gershman Properties’ first step will be filing for a land alteration permit, or request to develop unused property, which outlines the developer’s plans. Then, the developer will file a commercial site plan, which will include the entire project from the design and layout to construction.
City officials look over the plan and comb through every detail, such as what materials the buildings will be made of, landscaping and parking spaces, to ensure the plans are in line with city rules, Peeples said.
For a 700,000-square-foot shopping center, city officials would make sure a minimum of about 1,750 parking spaces were included. The city also has guidelines on how many entrances and exits would be needed in and out of the shopping center, Peeples said.
But the guidelines also go further, specifying the species of trees and shrubs, as well as how many of each, would have to be included in the plan, he said.
During the process, design engineers and consultants hired by the city would review the developer’s plans, along with city engineers and fire marshals to ensure safety and city guidelines are met, Peeples said.
And because the development is located near I-65, it will also need to be approved by the I-65 overlay board. That city board makes sure that development near the interstate meets the guidelines and vision of what officials want along I-65.
By the end of the process, the Greenwood Town Center will need to have gotten as many as four approvals from three different boards, or governing bodies.
“This will have a lot of eyes at the very beginning, molding the developer’s plan around city ordinance as good as we can get it,” Peeples said. “We have to make sure everything they want to do complies with all of our city ordinances and once they start building, we constantly monitor and inspect.”
The city has guidelines and requirements to make sure all development has a high-quality appearance. For example, city rules require landscaping, such as trees or shrubs, be planted along the street or on the outskirts of the parking lot, Peeples said. A development as large as Greenwood Town Center could require trees or shrubbery every 30 feet, Peeples said. And the city will only allow trees and shrubs from a list of about 40 species, Peeples said.
Public safety is also a top concern.
Any commercial development with three or more buildings is required to have at least two entrances in and out. And the fire department, which does building inspections to make sure everything is built to code with sprinklers and fire alarms, also makes sure lanes are wide enough for fire trucks, Greenwood Fire Chief James Sipes said.
Another key issue is traffic, but officials have said they believe the area is prepared for the amount of vehicles expected to come to the new shopping center.
Graham and County Line roads — the two main thoroughfares for traffic into Greenwood Town Center — are already in the condition and width required for a development of this size, Peeples said.
But normally, a traffic impact study still must be done before work can begin on the property, Peeples said. When the Walmart on State Road 135 near Smith Valley Road was built, the city had a traffic impact study done and ended up negotiating with the developer on how many entrances, exits and turning lanes were needed, Peeples said.
In this case, officials aren’t expecting significant work will be needed to the infrastructure around the property because large developments have been planned there before.
Gershman Properties won’t need to seek sanitary sewer permits and likely won’t have to do upgrades to nearby roads to accommodate traffic, Peeples said. A sports complex and hotel and a Cabela’s outdoor shop were planned for the site at one time, so the road and sewer work needed to handle large development is already complete.
Once the review of the developer’s plans is complete, a building permit can be requested, which would allow construction to begin. Before construction crews can break ground on the potential retail shops, restaurants and movie theater, the utilities, such as water and electric, have to be connected, fire hydrants installed and all roads heading to and from the shopping center paved, Peeples said.
From there, the developer would need to file agreements with the city that the project will be finished, a step previous developments never reached, Peeples said.
Before Gershman Properties can begin building the new Greenwood Town Center, here is a list of approvals the developer must receive:
- Land use alteration plan: details what the developer wants to do with the property
- Commercial site plan: document submitted to the city detailing the developer’s overall plan for the property
- Building permits: documents submitted to the city that, once approved, allows the developer to begin construction.
The city of Greenwood also reviews:
- Traffic impact studies to detail what improvements to surrounding roads must be done before the developer begins building
- The sanitary sewer system to address any needed improvements