Good-bye, Albemarle Place. Hello, Trader Joe's?
If you're one of those who bet that Albemarle Place, the mega-village to be built on 65 acres behind the 7-Eleven on Hydraulic Road that was approved in 2003, would never get built, well, you'd have won that bet, technically.
During a work session and presentation before the County Board of Architectural Review on Monday, January 3 representatives from Edens & Avant, the Columbia, South Carolina-based development company that took over the project, unveiled a plan to scrap the Albemarle Place name and call it Stonefield.
Edens & Avant reps could not be immediately reached for comment, so it's unclear why the company decided to change the name. However, if the problems and bad publicity that have plagued the project are any indication–-the change in developers, the discovery that the aging sewage infrastructure the development would hook into, politely called the Meadowcreek Interceptor, didn't have the needed capacity (that's in the process of being replaced at a cost of $24.5 million, and should be completed by August 2011), the economic downturn, and the simple fact that the name "Albemarle Place" has been attached to a non-existent place for so long–-it's not hard to guess why.
As already revealed, the development will feature a million square feet of residential space and nearly a million more square feet of retail and office space, including a new 14-screen Regal Cinemas with a high-tech IMAX® theatre. However, the latest renderings of the project showed something that a lot of folks will hope is not just wishful thinking: a Trader Joe's on the corner of Hydraulic and Route 29. There was also mention of a Hyatt Place Hotel. Whether or not actual contracts have been signed with those companies can't be confirmed, but the general feeling among County planning officials is that the long-awaited project is actually going to get built. Indeed, reps from Edens & Avant said they have a desire to break ground in March.
And we're talking about some serious ground work. Not only does the building site need to be fully prepared, proposed proffers have Edens & Avant chipping in $1 million to build a fourth southbound lane on Route 29 from Westfield Road to 29/250 interchange, and a second lane for the on-ramp onto 250 West.
"They are real excited about it, " says ARB planning official Margaret Maliszewski, who attended the presentation, and says additional plans will be reviewed in the coming months. "They seem anxious to get started."