Retail growth is beginning to follow the rooftops springing up in the county's smallest municipality, Harlem city officials say.
At a recent Harlem City Council meeting, Dee Tapley, the city's planning and zoning director, announced three new businesses planning to open in the city, in addition to plans by the IGA Foods supermarket to build a new store.
The developments come as the city welcomes its first new subdivisions since the 1980s, she said.
Plans for three subdivisions - Cornerstone Creek, Ansley Place and a third along Harlem-Grovetown Road - call for about 300 detached homes and townhomes collectively, city officials have said. Dozens of homes have already been built in the first phase of Cornerstone Creek, which is less than a mile from the future IGA Foods store on U.S. 78 at the former Thomson Company site.
Harlem Mayor Scott Dean said the company plans to raze the former Thomson building and construct a 35,000 square-foot store on the site, which is adjacent to the city's post office. Tapley said it will be a more modern store and include a deli.
"There's going to be a lot of other people who will be disappointed that they didn't get in on the growth of Harlem," Tapley said.
Three businesses that are also working to open in the near future include a Country Boys Barbecue and Restaurant on U.S. 78, Sit a Spell coffee shop near the current IGA and a small Mexican grocery store near the Huddle House, also on U.S. 78, Tapley said.
The barbecue restaurant replaces the former Patrick's Barbecue. The coffee shop will open in the former location of a Christian bookstore, Tapley said.
Dean said the new retail offerings look to be the beginning of a trend.
"I think what we're going to see is the start of the commercial following the rooftops," he said.
The new IGA store will help shorten the trip many residents make to reach more modern supermarkets, he said, and "gets rid of an eyesore" in the former Thomson building.
"It's positive growth," he said.
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