Council OKs Morganton Shopping Center | News

In a vote that could transform the commercial corridors of Morganton Road and U.S. 15-501,

In a vote that could transform the commercial corridors of Morganton Road and U.S. 15-501, the Southern Pines Town Council has approved preliminary plans for a massive new shopping complex that includes 221,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Discussion focused heavily on exterior signage requested for a Target store, the center’s anchor tenant, and the design of the proposed four-lane parkway that bisects the 100-acre Morganton Park South site. Plans call for the parkway to connect to lighted intersections at U.S. 15-501 and Morganton Road and two future cross-connection points at Southern Road and Old Morganton Road.

Target officials have declined to comment on the proposed plans. A Target spokeswoman reiterated a previous statement that the company is “continually evaluating potential store locations to serve new guests, but I don’t have any new-store news to share at this time.”

Last month, town leaders voted 4-0 in favor of the overall conceptual plan for Morganton Park South that allows up to 700,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 650 residential units over nine phases. Midland Atlantic Properties plans to construct the proposed shopping center on 35 acres behind Chick-fil-A, plus the four-lane parkway as the first phase of development.

The conceptual plan permits a maximum of 200 square feet of signage for any single commercial tenant in the development, including the building designated as the Target store.

John Silverman, managing partner and cofounder of Midland Atlantic, submitted a request for approximately 380 square feet of signage primarily on the front exterior of the 404-foot long Target store. The signs feature Target logos, plus smaller signs for a CVS Pharmacy and Starbucks to be located inside the retailer, and customer-oriented directional signs.

Planning Director BJ Grieve cautioned town leaders that approving the larger signage deviation could create a slippery slope with each new store in the development asking for similar accommodations.

“If the corridor is a cacophony of signs, then each retailer will want their signs to be a little bigger,” Grieve said. “Target has a brand but our brand (Southern Pines) is what drew them here.”

Silverman countered that the signage, as requested, serves a purpose and is not an overabundance considering the length of the building frontage.

“While we appreciate and respect the staff position, this is one area that we feel very strongly about. From my mind’s eye, it looks right, the scale is right, it feels right. It is cohesive with the building.”

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Murphy said he was concerned that eliminating too much signage would lend an industrial look to the building.

Councilman Bill Pate asked if a larger sign exemption could be justified based on a ratio of the building frontage. “(Target’s signage) doesn’t bother me. It looks nice. Is there a way to build in the grandiose scale, the size of the building?”

Following discussion, the Town Council approved a slight deviation allowing up to 300 square feet of signage on the front of the building. The Target bullseye logo proposed for the side elevation, near the front entrance, was eliminated.

Target proposed cemetery park

The historic Black family cemetery (left) adjacent to the proposed four-lane parkway between U.S. 15-501 and Morganton Road would be preserved in coordination with the Moore County Historical Society. Rendering courtesy of Midland Atlantic Properties/Town of Southern Pines

The proposed four-lane parkway design was also scrutinized Tuesday.

Plans call for a linear park featuring sidewalks, a greenway path along the length of the new parkway connecting U.S. 15-501 and U.S. 1. The historic Black family cemetery on the property will be protected within the boundaries of the linear park.

Grieve said the roadway plan had been recently modified with the addition of a small roundabout where the parkway intersects with the future extension of Southern Road and the main parking access for the Target store.

Southern Road currently terminates off Brucewood Road, near Outback Steakhouse. It would create a cross-connection point for vehicles to travel between the Morganton Park South development and Southern Pines Village (Kohl’s), off Brucewood Road, without accessing U.S. 15-501 or Morganton Road.

There was some limited discussion that South Stephens Street might be extended to Morganton Road, as part of the town’s ongoing West Southern Pines revitalization efforts, where the proposed parkway terminates.

Murphy asked the developer to consider naming the parkway in a way that would recognize the historic relationships and traditions of the community.

In other action on Tuesday, the Southern Pines Town Council:

Heard a request from Chris Smithson, a former council member, to reduce the speed limit from 35 mph to 20 mph in the 200 block of West Pennsylvania Avenue. He said people exiting the downtown area tend to accelerate quickly once they cross the Bennett Street intersection, which creates a hazardous situation for parked vehicles and pedestrians.

Approved a voluntary annexation petition for the nearly 20-acre contiguous tracts where Pinehurst Surgical Clinic and Pinehurst Medical Clinic are constructing new facilities in the Morganton Park North development.

Dismissed a request withdrawn by the applicant for a watershed protection permit and scheduled public hearing to consider a proposed self-storage facility near N.C. 22, off Waynor Road.