Grocery store proposed for food desert area in North Charleston

Grocery store proposed for food desert area in North Charleston

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - A North Charleston eyesore could soon be the site of a new grocery store, in an area in desperate need of one. The multi-million dollar proposal will be pitched to council Thursday.

Shipwatch Square used to house a very profitable grocery store. The now vacant 18-acre lot near Rivers and McMillan Avenues is currently owned by the city. It has taken six years to prepare the property for purchase.

"It's been sitting empty for quite a few years so everyone was kind of wondering what the next move was," North Charleston resident Michael Lampkin said.

"Back in 2010, we purchased the property with the hopes of using the property as a catalyst for development and to attract a grocery store to that area," city of North Charleston spokesperson Ryan Johnson said. "It took a lot of time to get the buildings demolished, to clean up the environmental issue that was on the site and to finally get everything together to get to this point."

Appian Investments LLC wants to buy the lot for $3.325 million.

"We're getting the appraised value for this property, they're bringing a grocery store and the proposal for the rest of the site is more retail, more office space, multi-family housing," Johnson said.

"That'd be very good, especially for the community," North Charleston resident Kayla Westerman said.

This area in North Charleston is classified as a 'food desert' by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"[A food desert] is a geographic area that doesn't have a grocery store within it so the residents can't walk or get easily to a grocery store that provides fresh produce, fresh meats," Johnson explained.

"You have to drive pretty far to get them, which is obviously pretty difficult if you don't have a car," Westerman added.

The mayor's office hopes these new plans for development help boost the economy.

"Everybody understands that it's important for that community," Johnson said.

The finance committee is scheduled to hear the resolution tomorrow. If both the committee and North Charleston's city council give it the green light, the next step is writing an ordinance to finalize the purchase. Johnson said he anticipated that to happen next month.