HAMPSTEAD -- Six shovels dug into the ground in what will soon become Hampstead Towne Center.
the new center will be part of the growing wave of development along Highway 17 in Pender County. Lowes Foods, a trendy resturant and a salon are some of the stores lined up.
Karen Saari lives in the Olde Point community, which is located behind the new center. She likes the idea of a Mayfaire-like shopping center in her neighborhood.
"I think we need it," Saari said. "It's a very upscale looking project, I think that most people will be happy that we have this here."
John Travis disagrees. "I'd rather see a park here," he said. "You know something for the kids rather than eating."
Travis represents some of the residents in Olde Point who are concerned about the traffic along Highway 17, something that was an issue cited by those who sought Hampstead's incorporation as a town last year. Developers say that the new shopping center will actually lessen traffic, because more residents will shop right here in Hampstead. North Carolina Department of Transportation will build turning lanes at both entrances to the shopping center.
"It will be good for us we won't have to go dragging into Wilmington and hit the traffic all the time," Saari said.
Hampstead Towne Center is scheduled to open next summer.
For more information go to, www.hampsteadtownecenter.com.