A facelift proposed Thursday for the St. Andrews area centers on offering incentives to bring back stores and adding more landscaping to make the community more attractive to live and work there.
Those steps will help revive an area of Lexington County that mainly developed in the 1970s but that community leaders say is starting to show its age and is ripe for blight to take root.
“It’s time to stop talking about our concerns and do something,” Elizabeth Taylor, executive director of the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission, told 60 community leaders and residents gathered at Saluda Shoals Park.
Steps like landscaping, facade improvements and signs promoting the area as the gateway to the lower Saluda River could help make the area a hub to stop, shop and socialize again, community leaders say.
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The facelift recommended by a team of planners is intended to counter signs of decline on a stretch of St. Andrews Road between I-26 and Irmo along with major side streets such as Old Bush River and Piney Grove roads.
Many of the two dozen strip shopping centers in the area feature empty shops, overgrown landscape, graffiti and litter.
“All we need to do is right the ship a little bit and we’ll be headed in the right direction,” said developer Stewart Mungo, whose family has built many neighborhoods in the area.
Some residents welcomed the ideas but are worried neighborhoods could be largely neglected, particularly in policing unkempt yards and poorly maintained homes.
“All this is cosmetology,” said George Hine, who has lived in the area for 40 years. The efforts should be put “into things that really count.”
The recommendations are a blueprint that will include neighborhoods, County Councilman Phil Yarborough of Irmo said.
“We’re at a tipping point,” he said. “If we don’t start doing something now, things are going to get out of control. Something has got to jump-start this.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483