Originally created 02/19/01

Center's codes color Wal-Mart

Think of it as Wal-Mart incognito.

If the retail giant is built in Evans, it might not look like a typical Wal-Mart: The blue and gray colors could be replaced by dark green and tan. And the stucco facade might resemble brick.

"It's more natural colors," Columbia County Senior Planner Tim Young said.

In other words, the Evans Wal-Mart would not resemble the Wal-Mart store on Bobby Jones Expressway - a store less than five miles away that local leaders say will continue to operate.

"We're still working with them on the colors," Mr. Young said. "We're trying to get colors and building material that are more complimentary to the Evans area."

The building's proposed location within the Evans Town Center means it would have to follow the center's strict building guidelines for public and private developments.

But that location - 30 acres on Washington Road near Evans Diner - has concerned residents of surrounding subdivisions, who called on county leaders to block the development. But there is little officials can do: The property has been zoned for commercial use since 1972.

"We could be having some major construction going on - noise and everything else - and it will probably take about six months to develop that thing," said Anthony Gancasz, who lives near the proposed shopping center site on Washington Road.

Preliminary site plans given to county planners last week are the first solid sign the retail giant could locate in Evans since the developer purchased an option in September on 30.6 acres owned by the Gray family next to the Evans Diner.

The preliminary plans show 235,000 square feet of retail space split between a 189,051-square-foot Wal-Mart SuperCenter and a 45,860-square-foot strip shopping center. There's also a possible gas station sketched into the plans.

The plans show three entrances:

The main one on Washington Road, complete with a traffic signal

A secondary one on Washington Road

A right-turn-only exit and left-turn-only entrance on Faircloth Drive

The Georgia Department of Transportation might require the developer - Wyatt Development Co. Inc. of Aiken - to expand Washington Road to six lanes with a turning lane in front of the development, Mr. Young said.

Mr. Young said he's fairly pleased with what he's seen so far. For example, the development plans call for saving 461 trees and adding more than 350 other trees and bushes in parking areas and along the boundaries of the property.

"There are probably some issues we need to examine," he said. "I'm more comfortable with it than with what you think is a typical Wal-Mart."

Insiders say Wal-Mart was lured to the Evans area by Columbia County's suburb-driven grocery market: Within a mile of the proposed Washington Road site are a Kroger and a Publix.

County officials see dollar signs in the development: The Wal-Mart SuperCenter could bring in about $750,000 in sales and property taxes annually.

"I see it being a big boost," Mr. Young said. "It's a very big boost."

Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115, or jbsmith@augustachronicle.com.


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