Redevelopment plans unveiled for expanded Mount Airy center Town planner favors conditional approval

October 27, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The owner of an aging shopping center along Route 27 unveiled an ambitious plan for a major retailer, an expanded grocery store and several new shops before the Mount Airy Planning and Zoning Commission last night.

The plan calls for adding about 38,000 square feet to Mount Airy Shopping Center.

The expansion would include several stores at its south end, an enlarged Safeway grocery, additional parking and an 85,000-square-foot discount store, such as Wal-Mart, on 14 acres behind the grocery.

About 65 people attended the meeting.

The project came before the commission for a site-plan review, JTC the first step in a development process that could bring a Wal-Mart to the town of 5,000.

Road improvements

A report prepared by the town planner recommended conditional approval, contingent on improvements to roads.

"This property has commercial zoning, and this is a permitted use," said Monika Jenkins, the town planner. "It is a matter of complying with town and state highway requirements."

Improvements include a double left-turn lane northbound from Route 27 at Ridgeville Boulevard; a new signal at Ridgeville and Ridge-side Drive -- the primary entrance to the center -- and a new access from Ridge Avenue to Route 27.

No Main Street access

Residents concerned with the impact on Main Street were relieved to find no access is planned from the rear of the center onto Main.

"My recommendation is to deny access to Main Street, in order to preserve its residential character," said Jenkins.

Because Main Street is at a higher elevationthan the center, residents will probably see only the roof of the new retail outlet, she said.

Gary Rappaport, a Virginia developer who bought the center two years ago, has lost several tenants.

Rappaport has said that without a new anchor and road improvements, the 20-year-old shopping center will die.

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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