Business

Kittie’s Crossing property owner files restraining order against Walmart

Businesses in the Kittie’s Crossing shopping center in Bluffton, including Giuseppi’s Pizza & Pasta, say that a median recently added to the center’s entry road off SC-46 is causing an inconvenience and danger to customers and employees.
Businesses in the Kittie’s Crossing shopping center in Bluffton, including Giuseppi’s Pizza & Pasta, say that a median recently added to the center’s entry road off SC-46 is causing an inconvenience and danger to customers and employees. jmitelman@islandpacket.com

The property owner of an outparcel in Kittie’s Crossing shopping center in greater Bluffton has served Walmart with a temporary restraining order after the retailer built a median at the complex’s Bluffton Road entrance at the end of July.

Earlier this month, Walmart was ordered by South Carolina Department of Transportation to stop all roadwork associated with the construction of the superstore and Sam’s Club that are being built across the street from Kittie’s Crossing.

Stafford Bluffton, which owns the outparcel where Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta, AAA Carolinas, Palm Beach Tan, Panda Chinese Restaurant and La Hacienda are located, filed a temporary restraining order against Walmart, along with the retail giant’s contractor and developer, McCrory Construction and Jaz Development. North Bluffton Properties owns the remaining property in Kittie’s Crossing and is also named among the defendants.

The court documents filed say the elongated median was built without permission from Stafford. The property owner is asking that an injunction be placed against the defendants and that the new median be removed and the old median replaced.

Questions about whether the retailer received permission from North Bluffton Properties remain unanswered.

Roberts Vaux, a legal representative for North Bluffton Properties, said Tuesday afternoon that the parties involved met for a hearing that morning and came to a short-term agreement that does not resolve all the issues. He said he could not comment on the details of that agreement.

Phillip Keene, director of corporate communications for Walmart, wrote in an email Thursday that Walmart was working with SCDOT and others to address some of the concerns raised about the median and other traffic controls at the intersection.

“We’re grateful for the feedback we have received and will continue to address concerns quickly and appropriately,” he wrote. “At this time, due to legal matters, it would not be appropriate for us to comment any further on this project.”

Will Euart, vice president of Stafford Properties (also known as Stafford Bluffton), said Tuesday morning he could not comment on the agreement.

The consent order was signed Aug. 16 by Stafford’s attorney, Russell Patterson — the same day the SCDOT ordered Walmart to stop working on Bluffton roads.

A representative of the SCDOT, Michael Black, told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette that Walmart was not allowed to work on the intersection until the state could verify that Walmart had permission from property owners to build the median. Walmart was allowed to pave the roads Aug. 16 due to safety concerns but was not allowed to continue any other construction.

Josh Gruber, the deputy county administrator, said last week that Walmart needs a signal at that intersection in order for the stores to be approved by the county and for the retailer to receive a certificate of occupancy. If Walmart doesn’t receive the certificate, customers would be barred from entering the stores, though Gruber said he would be surprised if that happened.

Walmart admitted to building the median in a statement on Aug. 12, two weeks after the installation of the median.

So far, three car wrecks have been reported in that area after the median was built.

Madison Hogan: 843-706-8137, @MadisonHogan

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