The Grovetown Wal-Mart opened in late 2009, and became the first of many businesses to locate at the now busy Interstate 20 interchange.
The area on the southeast corner went from a wooded property to booming retail center in only a few years.
“I don’t think it will slow down that much,” said Richard Harmon, the director of Columbia County Engineering Services Division.
An Applebee’s restaurant is under construction and is expected to be open around the end of the year. It joins restaurants Jersey Mike’s and Arby’s and retailers including Wal-Mart, Verizon and Furnish 123.
The Center for Primary Care opened a location earlier this year, and Harmon said his office is reviewing building plans for a 16,000-square-foot University Hospital Prompt Care facility.
The boom in commercial and retail development is no surprise, Harmon said. Businesses tend to follow residential development, which has exploded in the area surrounding the interchange in the last several years.
“If you count the rooftops, like I always say, that’s what you end up with,” Harmon said. “You’re going to get the retail. You’re going to get the medical and things like that that are going to service all those people in that area.
“It’s what’s going to happen. ... They are going to locate where the people are. Look at the access, my goodness. Hopefully they are going to pull people off the interstate to eat at Applebee’s, Arby’s, get gas, whatever.”
A McDonald’s is already planned for the opposite corner of the interchange on Lewiston Road at William Few Parkway.
Harmon said he expects the commercial development to continue and to include hotels and motels as well as more restaurants.
Bobby Meybohm, is a partner in a residential property across Horizon South Parkway from the shopping center and a developer of 16 commercial sites on the front of property.
Construction on Riverstone Apartments is expected to begin soon.
He’s said he hopes to attract hotels, restaurants and possibly professional offices to the sites, which are slated to be ready to build on in November.
“The good thing about it is at that interchange, everything is going to be new,” Meybohm said.
Harmon said with 5,000-10,000 more people expected to come to Fort Gordon, he expects residential development, followed by commercial growth to continue.
“Eventually, all four corners will be taken,” Harmon said.
He doesn’t think, however, the growth will grow up Horizon South Parkway toward Grovetown.
The Branch and Carter families own several parcels totaling about 400 acres on the east side of Horizon South and almost 340 acres on the west.
“I don’t see it going in that direction that much,” Harmon said. “I’m not sure the market is there yet. In 10 years, 15 years, who knows what is going to happen there.”
He does, however, expect the growth to follow the typical pattern and eventually spread to the next west interstate interchange at Appling-Harlem Road.
That likely won’t be for many years.
“It’s got to have a natural (progression) to it,” Harmon said. “It’s going to go from one interchange to the next.”