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Council likely to approve Belk plan
Landscaping to accompany store expansion
Belk logo for Web

The Statesboro City Council is expected Wednesday to approve a motion that would officially allow for a 25,000 square-foot expansion to the Belk store located in the Statesboro Mall.

The Council is set to hold its second regular meeting of the month at 6 p.m. Wednesday inside City Hall.

The addition broke ground last week and it is slated to expand the building outward toward Highway 80 and increase the store's size to 97,000 square-feet. It would eliminate land currently used for parking but result in an effort to beautify the mall parking area with trees and vegetation.

Council discussed the project during a Jan. 4 work session and will decide Wednesday whether to permit the expansion, which would require a variance of the Statesboro Zoning Ordinance because of a projected reduction in the number of parking spaces on the property.

The proposed addition, according to a Development Services Report presented to council, would result in the removal of an existing 72 parking spaces, while exempting the property owner from providing an additional 100 spaces required to serve the added building square-footage.

The 172 spaces would add to an existing parking deficit of 287 spaces - the property was granted a variance by council in 2006 when Starbucks was constructed on the site.

According to views expressed by council during the work session, a variance is not a problem because of ample parking already available on the mall site. The city will, however, present a condition for the motion's approval: Landscaping.

"The Statesboro Comprehensive Master Plan is clear as to the desire of the community to limit vast, non-landscaped parking areas as it detracts from the character of the community and can become a blighted area once vacancies dominate the shopping center," reads the Development Services Report. "In contrast, landscaping can visually improve a parking area, creating an inviting environment for patrons, and should be considered an applicable condition of the variance if approved by City Council."

According to the report, property owner Hull, Storey, Gibson Companies, LLC would be required to incorporate trees, shrubs and landscape island/peninsulas in select sections of the mall's parking lot if granted a variance.

The Belk expansion would correspond with extensive renovations to the inside of the building, and entail changes for the mall's Northside Drive entrance and the corridor directly in front the building.

Specifications of the addition will be discussed when the motion is put forth to council during its Wednesday meeting this week.

Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454.


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