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San Antonio leaders allow two dollar stores several hundred feet apart

SAN ANTONIO — A unanimous vote by the City Commission this week made it official: San Antonio will soon get two dollar stores within shouting distance of each other on State Road 52.

The city had already approved a Family Dollar on the south side of the highway, with officials saying there was little they could do to stop the store coming onto commercial property. The vote Tuesday night centered on a Dollar General that would come to a parcel north of the highway, just next to San Antonio Liquors and Lounge.

The city has much more control over the approval and design of that property, though many residents said it was a better location.

"I think this project fits well in the area," said Commissioner Tim Newlon. "Much more so than what's going in across the street."

The dollar store dispute has split residents of this small town, known for its low-key downtown with local shops. Several folks came away from Tuesday's meeting with a bitter taste in their mouths.

"Two dollar stores going within 300 feet of one another?" said Hal Bassinger, 57, who lives in the Rosewood neighborhood that surrounds the Family Dollar. "I don't know why we even allowed one."

Dollar General representatives and property owner John Nicolette said the store would be an attractive addition to the town.

Josh Hufstetler, a developer working with Dollar General, said the company was purchased by a private equity firm four years ago and has been trying to improve its image. Stores inside are cleaner and offer a wider range of products, not just the strictly $1 items found at some dollar stores.

"I'm extremely pleased with the new, clean Dollar Generals," said Mayor Roy Pierce, who recently visited several dollar stores along U.S. 301. "I do have a problem with the old ones in bad neighborhoods."

One resident asked whether the store's facade would mesh with the town. Hufstetler said, "we will design this store to accommodate the town of San Antonio as much as our budget will allow."

Besides allowing for the dollar store, changes to the site plan included removing six townhomes that were to be built at the back of the parcel. Nicolette said those homes weren't a good fit because they were right next door to the bar. Overall, there would be three buildings totaling 24,000 square feet of retail or office space.

Before the Dollar General vote, Pierce also shared an update on the Family Dollar across the street. He said he had a "doable" option to eliminate store-related traffic that has been a top concern of Rosewood residents.

The proposal would keep customers' cars from using Orange Street, a key neighborhood entryway. Because neither the developer nor an adjacent property owner have agreed to the plan, Pierce said he did not want to share details on the idea.

In general, the plan would route traffic off Curley Road to a second entrance at the back of the property. Pierce pitched the idea to developers Wednesday, saying that commissioners agreed not to allow an Orange Street entrance. Besides removing traffic from Rosewood, the plan also would eliminate the safety hazard of cars trying to turn left on SR 52 from Orange Street.

The developer "probably would want to do it to be a good neighbor," Pierce said. "This a better choice for them too."

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

San Antonio leaders allow two dollar stores several hundred feet apart 02/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 8:46pm]
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