Grocery store shuffle

in Business/News by

Publix coming, BI-LO up in the air, Harris Teeter wants an extension

By Mindy Lucas

Grocery shoppers looking for another option along Boundary Street in Beaufort will finally get a Publix, though it could take more than a year before that’s a reality, project planners say.

Site work will begin this month in preparation for the 48,387-square-foot grocery store to be built in Beaufort Plaza, according to a news release issued by the city on Aug. 6.

The Plaza Stadium Movie Theater and its adjoining buildings were demolished in October to make way for the grocery store.

Construction is expected to begin in January and the store will open in the fall of 2021, Plaza owner Paul Trask said in the news release. In addition, Trask plans to refurbish the shopping center, including the addition of new asphalt, landscaping and lighting.

It’s a big step forward for the city’s Boundary Street Corridor Improvement Plan, city officials said.

The project will be a great investment for the shopping center and the city, City Manager Bill Prokop said at city council’s most recent meeting.

“…This is a big win for the City of Beaufort,” he said in the news release. “This will offer many of our residents a very convenient location to do their grocery shopping.”

The announcement of additional tenants to the shopping plaza is forthcoming, officials said, and a sign announcing the Publix went up on the corner of Boundary Street and Robert Smalls Parkway last week.

While the announcement of another grocery store may be welcomed news to those living along the north side of town, the fate of the BI-LO in Beaufort Town Center remains to be seen.

In June, Salisbury, N.C.-based grocery chain Food Lion announced it was acquiring 62 BI-LO and Harveys supermarket stores from BI-LO’s parent company Southeastern Grocers.

While the Port Royal BI-LO was listed on the company’s website of stores in Georgia and the Carolinas included in the purchase, the Beaufort BI-LO on Boundary Street was conspicuously missing from that list.

BI-LO employees at the Boundary Street store approached in June said they were told to apply for employment with Food Lion.

An email sent to Southeastern Grocers was not answered at press time Tuesday. However, after the announcement of the sale in June, a spokesperson for Southeastern Grocers said the company would be exploring options for such BI-LO stores as the Boundary Street location, but would remain “open and ready” to serve customers in the meantime.

In other grocery store news, Lady’s Island residents remain curious to know if and when a Harris Teeter might open on the corner of Sea Island Parkway and Sams Point Road.

Vacated by Publix in 2014 when the grocery store moved across the road, the building has sat empty for years.

Developers, who have been planning for a Harris Teeter, submitted updated plans for a 56,000 square-foot grocery store with parking in 2016.

In addition, in June the city’s zoning board granted special permission for planners to build a gas station on the site.

Project planners also asked the city’s Design Review Board for another year’s extension on submitted plans, City of Beaufort Community and Economic Development Director David Prichard said. Project planners had previously asked for an extension last November. The new extension will begin in November, he said.

While Harris Teeter confirmed in a recent email that it still holds the lease for the property, a spokesperson for the company said it did not have an opening date or any additional details to share at this time.