With Hobby Lobby set to open an Augusta store next year, the arts and crafts retailer won't open a store in Evans as initially planned.
"Unfortunately, due to some changes outside of our control, we are no longer opening a store in Evans at the Mullins Crossing development," Vince Parker, the director of training and customer service at Hobby Lobby, wrote in an e-mail.
Hobby Lobby will open in 2010 in the former Ashley Furniture building in the Augusta Exchange shopping center on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway.
The second phase of Mullins Crossing was said to be anchored by the Oklahoma City-based store. A sign announcing Hobby Lobby was removed from the development's property in May.
The store's future location in Augusta is about four miles away from the 22-acre development in Evans.
Parker said the arts and crafts store can better serve a larger group of the Augusta market in its future site.
"We have no plans currently to open in Evans," he said. "This is in no way a reflection of the citizens, businesses, organizations and town of Evans."
Developers of the project said in May that the second phase of Mullins Crossing was put on hold until economic conditions improve.
A Hobby Lobby employee said the building at Augusta Exchange became available while construction on the Evans development was delayed.
Phone messages left last week for developer Frank Mullins and Jim Gamble of Collett and Associates, a partner in the development, were not immediately returned.
In January, the Columbia County Commission granted developers a $600,000 economic incentive to spur construction of the second phase, but the money was never used, Development Services Division Director Richard Harmon wrote in an e-mail.
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