A developer is pitching an "urban-type village" for Plymouth that includes two luxury hotels, senior housing, shops and a parking ramp at the site of the former Four Seasons Mall, which has sat vacant for years.
The site was initially going to be redeveloped as a Wal-Mart Supercenter, but those plans never materialized.
So now Rock Hill Management is proposing to tear down the abandoned structure and turn the 17-acre site off County Road 9 and Hwy. 169 into a high-end 95-room hotel, another 100-room hotel and a 139-unit senior housing project.
The plans also include retail stores, offices, restaurants and a bank, cafe and three-story parking ramp.
"It's very exciting," said City Council Member Jim Prom, whose ward includes the site. "It's a unique plan."
Residents may share their views on an environmental assessment work sheet (EAW) from now through Dec. 14, and at a 7 p.m. public hearing on Dec. 7 at City Hall. The Planning Commission will review the plans on Jan. 4 before the City Council takes them up. If approved, the complex would open by 2018, according to Rock Hill officials, who declined to comment Friday.
The Four Seasons Mall, built in 1978, has sat vacant for years. In 2010, Wal-Mart purchased the property for $10.6 million, originally intending to demolish the half-vacant strip mall and build a 240,000-square-foot Supercenter in its place.
But the massive retailer faced resistance from neighbors, and the City Council placed a yearlong development moratorium on the site while it conducted a market study. That study found that the neighborhood could support about 86,000 square feet of retail space, less than the 240,000-square-foot Supercenter or one of Wal-Mart's smaller 150,000-square-foot stores.
The study cited several factors as potential concerns for a large retail client: poor soil and 4 acres of uninhabitable wetlands on the property, traffic concerns on Lancaster Lane, the relative narrowness of the land parcel and its proximity to residential neighborhoods. A mixed-use development with a combination of offices, retail businesses and senior housing was ultimately recommended.
Wal-Mart wound up not submitting a plan to the city, and put the site up for sale in 2015. Now developer Rock Hill has signed a purchase agreement and held a neighborhood meeting this summer.
Retail space will total about 78,000 square feet, along with 20,000 square feet of office space, according to the environmental work sheet. The developer estimates that the urban village would draw nearly 7,000 vehicle trips a day; the Four Seasons Mall drew 5,000 trips a day and the proposed Wal-Mart would have brought 8,000 trips a day, Prom said.
While Prom said that he and other residents are still concerned about traffic, he's glad the developer is working with the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission on water issues.
Rock Hill is proposing "innovative" stormwater practices, watershed administrator Laura Jester said, and plans to seek funding for stormwater approaches to remove pollution on the site. "This is a really great opportunity to improve the water quality," she said. "We're happy something's happening."