The development will bring national chains with premier shops, hotels, restaurants, grocery store to Monroe
With the approval of a rezone from B3 to a Planned Commercial District on Tuesday, the city of Monroe is one step closer to getting a large retail development in the City north of downtown. According to John Argo, premier developer for Monroe Pavilion, the major retail development will include hotels or a hotel and business center, retail stores and a premier grocery store. The plan is to close on the property in the fall and begin putting in the roads and infrastructure. Construction will then begin next year.
“Construction of the buildings is the last thing we do, but we’re shooting for an opening date sometime in the first quarter of 2021,” Argo said. “Obviously the weather could have an impact. If we have weather like we had this past week, it could be earlier, but if we have another rainy season that will obviously create delays.”
The property for Monroe Pavilion lies north of the city center, on the other side of US 78 and between Charlotte Rowell Blvd and State Route 11. Argo said he’s not in a position at this time to name any of the national chains that will likely be opening in the Monroe Pavilion, but said people could consider that restaurants would be along the lines of Texas Roadhouse, Chipotle, the Olive Garden and Red Lobster, to name a few. At Tuesday’s meeting, Argo also mentioned “two fashion houses and a cosmetic store,” but again he did not name any particular stores.
“And we have hotels that are interested,” Argo said. “We’re talking to a few hotel chains.”
There are two pads set aside for hotels, but Argo said if there is enough interest in a professional office building, it is possible that could take one of the assigned footprints. The grocery store was not named either, but Publix is the grocery store of choice by this particular developer Monroe Mayor John Howard said in a recent interview with Darrell Everidge for Focus. Although Kroger was the initial grocery store mentioned in connection with this development, it would appear of late that a Publix is more likely.
When a retail development on this property first hit the news in 2016 as a Sofran development, a Kroger superstore was mentioned as being the store under consideration. However, since then Kroger changed its business plans nationwide and cut back on brick and mortar development and expansions. These cutbacks included a Kroger superstore initially approved for a location on Rosebud Road and an expansion of the Loganville Kroger.
Before taking the vote, council members held the feet of the developers and engineers from MAB American Management, LLC to the fire regarding staying within the requirements of the PCD. One of the key items at issue was the signage, in particular, the internally illuminated signage that major chains would require as part of their branding. Also, a point of contention was the materials that would be used as an alternative to stucco.
“We’ve tried to work with tenants in their prototype, but signage is difficult,” Argo said, expressing concern that inflexibility could cause some potential tenants to go elsewhere and possibly jeopardize the whole deal. Councilman David Dickinson said he believed that if any particular tenant decided to walk away, there would be others to take their place, but Argo said he was not so sure. He noted that businesses are much more skittish about brick and mortar stores in recent times with e-commerce expanding as it has.
Dickinson and Councilman Ross Bradley, however, stressed the importance of not getting away from the regulations contained in the PCD zoning ordinance and its intent of maintaining the look and feel of Monroe. Councilman Norman Garrett, however, felt that being too rigid could result in the demise of the whole project.
“I don’t think we should make the lighting issue a defining factor. I think we need to be more flexible,” Garrett said. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been and this can actually go one way or another. I think we need to find a way to be more business friendly.”
In the end, some of the specifics were taken off the table for the rezone vote at this time as the whole project would still need to come up in front of the council again more than once before final approval of the design. The council members then went ahead and unanimously approved the rezoning, clearing the way for MAB American Management, LLC to move forward with the project.