By Stan Welch
After an extended period of economic stagnation, The three towns of West Pelzer, Pelzer and Williamston are all experiencing a sudden burst of activity. West Pelzer was perhaps just a step ahead.
As their water and sewer infrastructure was modernized and brought into compliance, developers and builders began to show an interest.
First came the Vicar’s Construction Company, of Powdersville, which built a group of homes across from the West Pelzer Fire Department.
Mayor Blake Sanders said he knows why his town is attracting so much attention. “People in Powdersville like to talk about having a sense of place, but West Pelzer actually has that sense. We have a real small town feel. We don’t have the sprawl that they do. Every business in our town except for two or three – KFC, 7-11, and Dollar General, for example – are locally owned and operated. We just don’t have a lot of chains and franchises.
Our restaurants are local, and we have had several open this year. ”
A variety of businesses have opened in recent months – Baby Sumo (restaurant) is the latest. Moon Dog Café, A-1 Elegance (barber shop), Westy’s (antiques), Lincoln Tap Room and a salon, are among others. All are local.
Even previous owners of properties now being developed often had local ties. “The Watts family previously owned the property on Woodcock Road where several new homes have been built. Then Brasier Development renovated several homes along Main Street as well as constructing new homes,” Sanders said.
A few years ago, the town council prohibited the placement of mobile homes of a certain lineage in the mobile home park on Spring Street. As attrition reduced the number of mobile homes, the property was sold, and will soon be the site of seventeen homes.
Well known local physician Dr. Smith was the prior owner of a large tract of land across from West Pelzer Elementary School. The property, located on West Stewart Street, became available and Vicar’s Construction has built seven new homes there so far.
Another sixty homes is planned for the property in a development called Palmetto Farms, according to Mayor Sanders. “We are at about 450 homes in town now. We anticipate a growth rate of fifteen percent over the next thirty six months.”
Sanders also said, “We need to continue to pursue a sidewalk project along Depot Road to make foot travel easy and safe.”
Sanders says that his council works very hard with developers to access existing infrastructure, rather than building projects that require additional infrastructure, such as subdivisions that require new roads, rather than accessing existing roads and streets.
“We know the day will come when apartments and multiple unit housing will be proposed, and there will be a place for that,” the mayor said. “But we hope to have done the strategic planning to absorb that development with as little stress as possible.”
There has also been a recent surge in development in Pelzer and Williamston. Subsequent stories will report on those activities.