Completion may still be up to 10 years away, but the landscape heading into Pendleton along U.S. Route 76 will change with the development of Clemson Grove.
For about a year, there has been a sign for Clemson Grove standing at the corner of S.C. 187 and U.S. 76-Clemson Boulevard near Pendleton. Townville developer Richard Bennett has plans to build a mixed-use development on the property. His wife, Heather Bennett, owns the property under Clemson Grove LLC, he said.
The town of Pendleton approved annexation of the property and committed $2 million to infrastructure improvements. Bennett said he is clearing and preparing tracts starting from Pendleton and working his way toward Anderson.
“I was first working with the county to develop the property. I had already submitted plans to the county,” Bennett said. Then it took some time to work out the details with the town of Pendleton, he said.
“That’s why the sign has been out there for so long,” he said.
Early plans call for a mixed-use development, with commercial property along Clemson Boulevard and residential property further back. Bennett said the property consists of about 350 acres, with 250 acres of usable land. He said the development will be retail and primary residences targeting the upper-middle class.
Pendleton Mayor Frank Crenshaw anticipates the development will give an economic boost to the town.
“It’s phenomenal what this development can do for Pendleton. There is a whole lot of development and investment going on there that will expand the tax base and service in our area,” said Crenshaw.
The first phase will consist of commercial development along Clemson Boulevard, Bennett said. The second phase will be the installation of a pump station along U.S. 187 near Pendleton High School. The third phase will see development down Dalton Road toward the Milliken plant.
Bennett said he is working with Waffle House and a transmission shop to occupy two of the first commercial sites along Clemson Boulevard.
“We’re also negotiating on a 70,000-square-foot shopping center with a grocery store,” he said.
As for cost, Bennett said the project could easily reach $100 million. In outlining the numbers involved, Bennett said “if you just took two subdivisions at 100 houses a subdivision, that’s 200 houses, which I think we’ll do in the next three years, at $250,000 apiece. That’s $50 million just in housing.”
“Then you have the shops. Right now we’re looking at 70,000-square-feet at a cost of $100 per square foot (to build); the Waffle House is a $650,000 investment, the transmission store is $500,000,” Bennett said. “If you take the lots across the front at a million apiece, that’s $15 million there, so it’s not that hard to see this thing grow to a $100 million project.”
As for the detractors who may not want to see the land developed or the increase in traffic that will come with it, Bennett said they make some valid points.
“My answer to this is you can’t stop growth, but you can plan it,” he said. “Pendleton needs a revenue. People want the convenience; they just don’t want the traffic. It is a fine line. We’re not changing the historic look or downtown parts of Pendleton. Will traffic pick up with this development? Yes. Was it going to pick up anyway? Yes.”