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Outdoor retailer Gander Mountain to build store in Columbia County

Posted: February 12, 2014 - 1:49am
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A conceptual plan for future development around the Gander Mountain site calls for an additional 158,000 square feet of retail space, including another anchor store, shops and restaurants.  Special Photo
Special Photo
A conceptual plan for future development around the Gander Mountain site calls for an additional 158,000 square feet of retail space, including another anchor store, shops and restaurants.

Columbia County officials say a newly announced outdoor retail store near Interstate 20 will be on the fast track to open this fall.

County Commission Chairman Ron Cross announced Friday that Minnesota-based Gander Mountain had selected a site on Mason Mc­Knight Jr. Park­way, near Flowing Wells Road, for its next Georgia location.

“It is such a delight to deal with a company that knows what they want, says what they will do and follows through,” said Cross, taking a swipe at Bass Pro Shops, which made a similar announcement in July but later backed out of the deal. “I think this will be the initiative that will bring other stores and retailers to this fine property near I-20.”

John Engler, the vice president of McKnight Properties, said the company wants to start construction as quickly as possible and open “by Oct. 1, if not sooner.”

Officials said an official ground-breaking is set for March 5, though some site work might begin as early as next week.

“My only worry is keeping up with their (schedule),” Engler said.

Gander Mountain is the second large outdoor retail chain in the past seven months to announce plans for the Augusta area. Cabela’s Inc. is completing work on a 42,000-square-foot store in Rich­mond County next to Costco in the Village at Riverwatch near I-20, which will be the retailer’s first location in Geor­gia. The store is scheduled to open March 20 and will employ about 90 people.

The 52,000-square-foot Gander Moun­tain store will be just across the Columbia County line, anchoring one end of what Engler hopes to develop into a large mixed-use retail center with an additional 158,000 square feet of space for future tenants.
Engler said he is in negotiations with other retailers for those spaces but declined to provide details.

“Gander Mountain will be a perfect fit for our region, and this announcement is another confirmation that Co­lum­bia County continues to strive through public-private partnerships to bring the best to our citizens,” Cross said.

Unlike the Bass Pro Shops deal, Cross said no tax incentives or other inducements were offered to Gander Moun­tain. The only thing the county plans to do for the development is to move a sewer line to make way for construction, he said.

Gander Mountain generally does not seek incentives for its stores, according to company spokesman Jess Myers.

“It is very rare that we do that,” he said.

Myers said most Gander Mountain stores employ between 50 and 70 people, with seasonal fluctuations. Of those, about 20 are generally full-time positions, he said.

The store will be the fourth Gander Mountain location in Georgia, joining existing stores in Albany and Valdosta and a new store in McDonough set to open in the spring.

“We appreciate the warm welcome we have received in Augusta and look forward to our grand opening in the fall,” Eric Jacobsen, Gander Mountain’s executive vice president, said in a news release.

Gander Mountain, based in St. Paul, sells hunting, fishing, camping, marine and outdoor lifestyle products and services. It has 131 stores in 24 states.

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Comments (1)

Golly Jeepers

More Nothing Special Development

How many more strip malls and mobile homes can the County endure? What is so special about this development? NOTHING! What a waste of scarce resources (land) to build yet another auto oriented shopping center with tons of parking up front, the building situated hundreds of feet from the right-of-way, no pedestrian mobility, and nothing that distinguishes this type of big box anchor development from the same thing that can be found all over Robert C. Daniel Parkway in nearby Richmond County. That parking lot will never be even half full at peek capacity. What makes this place unique and invites you to stay for a while? Again, NOTHING! The pay by the hour motel at the development entrance via Scott Nixon surely says volumes about how successful this will be. Who wants to drive past some of the most notorious code violations in the county and past more "bad" decisions to arrive at yet another ho hum "retailer." Shop on-line, stay at home, read a book...

Mixed use implies a residential component, not a strip mall where you have to walk in the rain and snow to move from one store to the next. Once again, someone has missed the boat!

Golly Jeepers

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