How many gas stations, convenience stores can community support?

in Voices by

Submitted by the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association

On Sea Island Parkway between the Woods Memorial Bridge and Chowan Creek, there are four convenience stores which also offer gas.

On Sams Point Road there are presently two convenience stores which offer gas.

Plans for future development of Sea Island Parkway include one new convenience store with gas pumps (Harris Teeter) and possibly another gas station at the Walmart site near the Lady’s Island Airport.

On Sams Point Road, plans are being reviewed for a new Parker’s convenience store with gas pumps on the property adjacent to the new Oyster Bluff community.

In summary, by the end of 2017, drivers on Sams Point Road will have three locations from which to obtain their convenience store and gas needs and on the Lady’s Island portion of Sea Island Parkway will be five convenience stores and five or six gas stations.

All of which brings up the question of how many gas stations and convenience stores can an area support from a financial viewpoint?

There are more than 20,000 vehicle trips per day on Sea Island Parkway.

The residential density of Lady’s Island consists of 15,000 homes existing or planned within a 1.5-mile radius. There are 13,000 homes within a 5-mile radius of the Village Center.

Is enough enough?

So is there enough traffic using Sams Point Road and Sea Island Parkway to support the planned increased number of convenience stores and gas pumps?  Obviously, the folks who studied the merits of investing in the new convenience stores and gas pumps believe the demographics and traffic counts will make their stores economically viable.

However, a note of caution should be considered in this regard. If the market will not support the additional number of convenience stores and gas pumps, a review of similar situations in other parts of the country would indicate that the older existing stores may face serious challenges.

All of the above information brings back the question of whether there should be zoning to control the types of commercial endeavors allowed in specific areas, and if so, on what basis should the control be based?

As a basic philosophy, the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association prefers the market to be the determining factor regarding the location of businesses, but in some cases traffic generation and similar factors must be taken into consideration.

How many gas pumps and convenience stores can survive in the Village Center and surrounding roads?

Only time will tell, but probably not as many as are presently planned for the area.