A developer listed as Orange Hill Waynesville bought three adjacent lots for $900,500 across from the street from Waynesville Commons, the shopping complex that is home to Super Walmart. The lots are adjacent to the new Old Town Bank building and currently are home to two vacant houses and the former Big Mountain BBQ restaurant, which will all be demolished.
The development will bring a marked aesthetic improvement to the streetscape, according to Town Planner Paul Benson. The Taco Bell must meet the town’s architectural guidelines, making it nicer than your typical fast-food joint.
“The town’s guidelines require most chain stores to pull out their upgrade model. So many places nationwide have appearance standards now, they have their slightly more expensive version,’ Benson said. “They initially submitted their cheaper one, and we said ‘Nope,’ and they pulled out their upgrade version.”
Taco Bell will feature stacked stone and columns that are an increasingly common motif for Waynesville’s mountain-town look. Stacked stone also plays a starring role in other new development on South Main, including Old Town Bank and the new town ABC store under construction.
The site plan also calls for a sidewalk and a double row of street trees — one row between the street and sidewalk, and another row between the sidewalk and parking lot.
“It improves the streetscape because we are getting sidewalks and some landscaping, including street trees,” Benson said. “That really is lacking on South Main.”
South Main is home to several empty and rundown buildings, parking lots over-grown with weeds, and a sea of unbroken asphalt. The town commissioned a street study last year to set the stage for how the corridor should be developed to make it more pedestrian-friendly and aesthetically appealing.
The three lots had been on the market for several years, ever since Super Walmart moved in to the area. The coming of Super Walmart was expected to bring a commercial explosion to South Main, attracting a flood of retail stores angling for a piece of the action in proximity to the retail giant. But development of South Main has instead come in drips and drabs, with the slower pace blamed on the recession.
In the past year, South Main has seen an uptick with the coming of Belk, Pet Smart, Michael’s and Rack Room Shoes. A new Waynesville ABC store and impressive new Old Town Bank building is under construction as well.
In keeping with the town’s street plan for South Main, Taco Bell and Mattress Firm will share a single driveway entrance, allowing right turns only. They will also utilize the access road at the traffic light in front of Old Town Bank.
Orange Hill Waynesville will carry out the site work, including the construction of parking lots and sidewalks, and then turn the property over to Taco Bell and Mattress Firm to build the actual stores.
“That is still probably going to be a little ways out,” said Walker Hoge, head of the Georgia-based Integrity Engineering and Development Services. “They have to finish their work before we even get started on ours.”
The new Taco Bell on South Main Street will replace the one currently located near the Lowe’s interchange in the Clyde-Lake Junaluska area. That interchange is being redesigned by the N.C. Department of Transportation, a project that will consume many of the surrounding properties and businesses, and thus sent Taco Bell on the prowl for a new location.