Nine new stores announced at South Point

Developer Jim Baker anticipates economic boon

The year 2012 promises growth for the South Point retail development, in McDonough. That is according to developer Jim Baker, president of the Atlanta-based Baker & Lassiter, Inc.

Baker anticipates nine new stores opening at South Point, on land at the corner of Ga. Highways 20/81 and Interstate 75 in Henry County.

The Hapeville, Ga., native recalled when he purchased his first parcel at South Point –– about 20 acres of land –– back in 1989.

Back then, he said, the main thoroughfare from downtown McDonough to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, in Hampton, was a two-lane road hugged by pastures and woods on either side. He said the route has grown into a corridor of commerce, in the Southern Crescent area. That parcel of land has grown to include some 350,000 square feet of retail space. He expects to add 150,000 square feet at South Point over the next six months.

While economic impact was not addressed, the number of future tenants gives rise to a potential boon for the local economy, according to local officials.

Billy Beckett, McDonough’s city administrator, said one-cent, Local Option Sales Tax revenues are up, and had not been so positive until recently. The city projects $2.6 million from LOST collections, and has in hand, $1.1 million from the first five months of the fiscal year.

“I certainly do think that continued activity at South Point bodes well for McDonough and for Henry County,” said Bob White, executive director of the Henry County Development Authority. “The addition of the Hobby Lobby, AT&T, and Academy Sports stores at South Point, and the Hilton Garden Inn, have been a welcome addition to the area, and build from the growth that the JCPenney and Kohl’s department stores have experienced for the past several years.

“I would think that sales tax revenues will continue to see strong growth as consumers ‘vote’ with their wallets,” said White. “The continued development speaks volumes about the potential that retailers see for the area.”

Baker said he hopes the development will grow to be one of the largest, high quality, retail centers between Macon and Atlanta. “We’re drawing people from Butts, Fayette, Henry, and Clayton counties,” Baker said of the existing retail stores at South Point. He anticipates also gaining patrons from Newton County, east of Henry.

“I see a huge corridor on Ga. Hwy. 20,” he added.

The existing 10-mile stretch of Ga. Hwy. 20, known as Bruton Smith Parkway, was reopened in 2005. The parkway connects motorists from Tara Boulevard, Ga. Hwy. 19/41, in Clayton County, to Interstate 75 in Henry County.

Baker explained that industry and commerce along the parkway, nearest I-75, has blossomed with the addition of retailers, restaurants, and offices. The developer acknowledged his participation in the Bear Creek Alliance, an initiative in which some property owners have expressed a desire to stimulate growth and development around the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and the newly renamed Atlanta South Regional Airport in Hampton.

He said his company has owned roughly 4,000 acres in the Hampton area for the past 25 years. Baker said members of the alliance also have favored continuing the four-lane highway, known as Bruton Smith Parkway, westward to connect Interstate 75 in Henry County, to Interstate 85 in Coweta County. He said the vision is to create a major expressway to give travelers a short cut between the two freeways.

Baker pointed to robust sales at South Point as one of the magnets attracting new tenants to the development. Over the past three years, he said, the retail center has opened five businesses and a hotel. Construction already has begun on two businesses, with another seven waiting to break ground.

Construction is scheduled to begin in January for Ulta, a beauty retailer; Party City, a party supply store; as well as, Five Below, a teen and pre-teen trendy value store.

Baker said construction of a T.J.Maxx clothing supply is scheduled to begin March 1. Other stores opening in 2012 include Havertys (furniture) and a Toys"R"Us/Babies"R"Us hybrid store. He did not disclose the remaining three retailers.

“I’m very pleased with some of the future prospects there in that neighborhood,” said McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland. “We are pleased and excited about it. I think it gives our people another option on the basis of retail, instead of going to Lenox Square in Atlanta, and other places.

“I’m very, very pleased. I’m beginning to see a ray of hope in our local economy, by way of our sales tax revenues,” Copeland said. “It’s going to be a nice complex, and I appreciate all of the investors in the process. I’m certainly excited for the people of our community, Henry County, and more importantly, for the citizens of McDonough.”