McDONOUGH — The brick and stucco walls appear to be growing out of the ground, where residents may remember seeing vegetation years ago. This 125-acre tract of land just west of Interstate 75, at McDonough Exit 218, is the site of one of Henry County’s largest retail-development projects.
Developers promised to open as many as nine stores on the property, known as South Point, and are on pace to fulfill the promise with the opening of a T.J. Maxx clothing store and a Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us hybrid store.
South Point also is home to Hobby Lobby, AT&T, Academy Sports + Outdoors, and Hilton Garden Inn, which are anchored by the JCPenney and Kohl’s department stores.
Several other stores are scheduled to open in the next three months, according to developer Jim Baker, president of the Atlanta-based Baker & Lassiter, Inc.
Baker described the master-planned development as an upscale retail and dining destination. He said tenants at South Point routinely open with top sales in the state, and some earn tops sales nationally.
“ULTA Cosmetics, opening next month, is a very popular store,” said Baker. “ULTA is one the top-selling stores per square foot in America.”
Baker said plans are apace with opening “Party City Superstore” and “Five Below” in August. The openings will be followed quickly by the openings of “Vitamin Shoppe” and “Sleep Number” in September.
He said Aspen Dental, a large private dental office company with more than 350 locations nationwide, is also slated to open in September. Haverty’s Furniture Company will open in October.
South Point plans indicate the retail shops and department stores will add to what will eventually be about 570,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
Baker said the development has earned a reputation for drawing from a large market area, due partly to its proximity to Interstate 75 and state routes, Ga. Highways 20/81. He noted that businesses at the South Point maintain customers from Lamar, Pike, Monroe, Butts, Fayette, Spalding, Clayton and Newton counties.
The large-area draw, Baker explained, has helped capture a previously under-served clientele in the Southern Crescent. Commerce along the Interstate 75 corridor, in particular, has seen steep growth in recent years to keep pace with Henry County’s near-exponential residential growth — growth that preceded and continued through the global economic recession.
“South Point is proud to have been one of the contributing factors to bring tax base and employment to Henry County during a very difficult period of the last four years,” said Baker. “We are approaching 1,000 jobs that have been added to the Henry County area and many more to come.
“South Point is grateful to have played a part of helping people through these difficult years and hope to continue to help the quality of life,” he continued.
Baker characterized the South Point development as being “Northside quality of appearance for a major project on the south side of Atlanta.” It sits on the edge of a four-lane divided state highway (Ga. Hwy. 20/Bruton Smith Parkway) that stretches about 10 miles from McDonough to Hampton.
The developer said industry and commerce along the Bruton Smith Parkway, nearest Interstate 75, has blossomed with the addition of retailers, restaurants, and offices that serve the area’s new and older residential properties.
Baker 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.
His company has owned roughly 4,000 acres in the Hampton area for the past 25 years. He said members of the alliance also have favored continuing 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.
“If and when Ga. Hwy. 20 gets connected to Interstate 85 for the East-West connector between Newnan, Ga., and McDonough, it will be the greatest economic boom ever, since the growth of the Atlanta airport over the past 40 years,” said Baker.