Masters Week guests might notice growth next year in some familiar retail developments and in vacant properties that are taking on new uses.
Columbia County's booming population and favorable economic demographics have lured retail chains such as Target, Lowe's and Kohl's to the area in recent years. Development officials say that's a trend likely to continue, with developers bringing in more high-end retail stores and restaurants.
"I'm pretty confident it is going to continue," said Zack Daffin, the executive director of the Development Authority of Columbia County.
Daffin said several retail chains and restaurateurs have recently approached the county about locating in the area, though he declined to name companies that have not yet announced their intentions.
"Certainly on the restaurant side there are several recognizable names in the restaurant industry that are looking to locate here," he said. The retailers he has spoken with would fit into the model of a Surrey Center-like development, he said.
A strictly high-end plaza like Surrey is a need in the county's retail market, Daffin said.
"I'm pretty confident some of these will be open the next year," he said.
Daffin cited the decision by Earth Fare, an organic foods grocer that is planning to fill the vacant Winn-Dixie store at Furys Ferry and Baston roads, as an example of the types of retailers potentially entering the market.
Perhaps the largest landmark to change, the former Evans Middle School at North Belair and Washington roads, is being demolished to make way for the Evans Town Square development by Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial.
Though developers have not confirmed tenants, county officials have said The Home Depot is wanting to build on the site diagonally across from the new Evans Lowe's home improvement store.
As projects under construction continue to take shape, some xisting retail developments will soon grow in size.
In August, the county rezoned more than 20 acres for the second phase of Mullins Crossing on Washington Road.
Frank Mullins Jr., the president of Mullins Land Co., has said he would like the second phase to include more restaurants and make Mullins Crossing even more of "a complete destination" for shoppers.
Blanchard and Calhoun's Evans Town Park development on North Belair Road near the Evans University Hospital campus also continues to grow. Several retail businesses have opened, though most of the lots in 53-acre retail-office professional campus remain untouched.
Crews broke ground in February on a three-story, 52,000-square-foot office complex, which will include light retail and restaurantsand a park with a fountain.
Also in Evans, work continues on mixed retail developments on North Belair Road near the Evans Town Center Park and on Washington Road across from Wal-Mart.
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