Grocery chain Sprouts may put first SC store on Woodruff Road

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What could be the first Sprouts Farmers Market in South Carolina is on track to open at the corner of Woodruff Road and Highway 14 after the Greenville County Planning Commission agreed to a rezoning.

The rezoning, applauded and opposed by neighbors at a public hearing, now goes to Greenville County Council.

Under a proposal from RealtyLink, a Greenville-based real estate developer, the grocery would occupy 30,000 square feet of retail space at the intersection, beside a cemetery called Graceland East Memorial Park.

Colby Price, a RealtyLink project manager, said it would be the first Sprouts Farmers Market in South Carolina.

The chain specializes in fresh, natural and organic foods and uses a store layout it says was inspired by a farmers market.

Two other chains that also emphasize healthy groceries — Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market — already do business on Woodruff Road, as does specialty grocer Fresh Market.

Lowes Foods is the latest entry in the highly competitive grocery market along Greenville’s biggest retail corridor.

Sprouts operates more than 260 stores around the country, including 15 in the Atlanta area, and aims to grow at a pace of 30 new stores a year, according to its website.

A spokesperson for the Phoenix-based chain said it wasn’t ready to announce a South Carolina store.

Neighbors have successfully objected to previous plans to put Fresh Market and Harris Teeter groceries at the busy Eastside corner.

A county planning document prepared in 2008 with the help of a citizens committee, the East Woodruff Road Area Plan, calls for any development at the site to be housing only.

But the latest commercial development proposal has the blessing of county planners, who noted as part of a recommendation to approve the rezoning that the property is in “a major high traffic area better suited for commercial uses.”

County planner Alan Willis told members of the Planning Commission at a May 24 meeting that the 2008 East Woodruff Road Area Plan was a guide meant to last seven years and has now expired.

RealtyLink also proposes another 13,200 square feet of building space on the same 5.8-acre parcel to house a restaurant, shopping, and offices.

It had proposed to donate another 4.2 acres at the site to Southside Christian School, whose campus is directly across Woodruff Road.

That parcel would have to be used for school operations under an amendment to the rezoning made by the Planning Commission.

Members of the Planning Commission voted 6 to 1 in favor of the rezoning. The only no vote came from Nick Hollingshad, who argued the planned development was too intense.

County Council’s Planning and Development Committee is scheduled to take up the rezoning on June 5. The full County Council is expected to vote on it at second reading on June 20.

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