Publix will rebuild at Lake Wylie shopping center

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comOctober 18, 2013 

— The former Bi-Lo store in Lake Wylie, and possibly the stores surrounding it, will be torn down to make way for a new Publix.

A Publix spokesperson on Friday confirmed the Lake Wylie store will be rebuilt and open in late 2015.

“The Lake Wylie store will be a new location,” said Publix spokesperson Brenda Reid. “Brand new.”

Another company spokesperson, Kim Reynolds, on Friday said planners are “still in the early stages” of determining which stores will be remodeled and which will be torn down and rebuilt following last month’s purchase of seven Bi-Lo stores in York and Mecklenburg counties, including the Lake Wylie location and one in Steele Creek.

The Steele Creek store on York Road will open in late 2014. It will be a remodel, Reid said, and not a rebuild. The company operates both standalone sites and those within shopping centers.

“While we would have loved to open the stores sooner, the reality is that some will require a significant remodel and others we will be completely torn down and rebuilt, so we can ensure our customers get the absolute best shopping experience,” Reynolds said.

The company has not said, and neither spokesperson confirmed, whether other businesses in the Lake Wylie shopping center will be removed to make way for Publix.

“We’re not sure whether that includes our space or not,” said Linda Watkins, co-owner of Echo Consignment Boutique.

Watkins opened the business about seven months ago in the Lake Wylie shopping center. An empty storefront, she said, is “not what we signed up for.”

Other businesses have a different outlook following the Bi-Lo closing the week of Oct. 7. Julie White, manager at the nearby Food Lion in Lake Wylie, said her store has hired 16 employees, including four former Bi-Lo employees. The team is “getting full,” but there are cashier positions available. White said the recent hires are a benefit for the community, too.

“We’ve got familiar faces for everybody,” she said.

White said sales are up 96 percent from this time last year since Bi-Lo closed. Food Lion now shares grocery customers only with nearby Walmart.

“Our customer count has already doubled,” she said. “If we can keep half of that [when Publix opens], that would be great.”

In Steele Creek, Brenda Ramsey worked at the Lake Wylie store when it was Winn-Dixie, before Bi-Lo’s purchase. For eight years, she has worked at Classic Touch Cleaners, beside the now vacant grocer storefront on York Road. Ramsey last week said she’s already missing her neighbor for the quick lunch or supply runs she’d make there.

She also is noticing a considerable drop in foot traffic. Ramsey said now it’s quiet, but her business has too many regulars for her to worry. However, she said, she is concerned about a potential drop in new customers.

“I would get new ones when they would come to the grocery store, they would come to the cleaners,” she said.

Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix is progressively entering the Charlotte market with 11 stores set to open by the end of 2015. Publix has stores on Gold Hill Road in Fort Mill and in Indian Land.

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