Despite a stagnant economy, Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops still hopes to begin work later this year on its 100,000-square-foot Augusta store off River Watch Parkway.
"We were pleased with our fourth quarter and also pleased -- so far -- with the first quarter this year," said Larry Whitely, Bass Pro's communications manager. "So we're ready to move ahead."
The store, which will employ about 250 people, will take 10 to 12 months to complete once construction begins, he said.
"Right now we're still waiting on the developer to do some things at the site," he said. "We haven't been able to move forward anymore until they get their part done."
The developer, Texas-based MGHerring Group, is working with a local developer, Frank Mullins, to get the project under way.
"The big thing now is that the Herring Group is working on infrastructure," said Walter Sprouse, the executive director of Richmond County's Economic Development Authority.
Curbs and parking areas designed for earlier proposed projects at the site have to be ripped out and redesigned, he said, and plans are being drafted to move power lines, or possibly put them underground.
Bass Pro will benefit from about $25 million in tax-exempt financing arranged by the development authority but will pay big dividends through its future economic impact on the Augusta area.
"We think it will be a huge project for this region," Mr. Sprouse said. "They continue to use the phrase that River Watch and I-20 is what they call the 'new crossroads of the area' and the first exit after the river."
The Bass Pro store is part of a larger development that eventually will encompass most of the 132-acre site and tie it in with the Augusta Canal, which runs along its northern boundary.
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