New neighbor approved for Evans Chili's

The next phase of Marshall Square could bring a five-story office building next to the Chili's restaurant.

The Columbia County Planning Commission approved a request Thursday for a major revision to about 1.5 acres of the 31-acre development off Evans Town Center Boulevard and North Belair Road.

The building is planned in an area designated for offices and a hotel. Site plans show the structure as 75 feet high with a brick and stucco finish.

"I think this might be the kickstart for the whole Marshall Square project," said Planning Commissioner Thom Tuckey.

Before receiving final approval, the revised item must still go before county commissioners at their May 3 meeting.

In July, county officials settled a $57.5 million lawsuit filed by Marshall Square developers by purchasing 26 acres of the mixed-use development for $6.25 million.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 after commissioners restricted the number of apartment units planned on the site.

The initial rezoning allowed for 459 apartments on 13.5 acres. In 2009, the county's planning and zoning board recommended allowing 288 units, but commissioners further restricted the maximum number of apartments to 189.

In April 2010, Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet denied the developers' motion for a partial summary judgment and the case was set for trial until officials purchased the property.
Chili's opened in Marshall Square in early 2009 and has remained the development's only business.

County officials also recently lifted a ban on multifamily rezoning that was enforced in 2009 after issues arose over Marshall Square. The updated rezoning ordinance limits the density of new apartments from 14 to 10 units and only allows 50 new units each year.

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