Cabela's will place outdoor retail store near Costco in Augusta

A grass-covered piece of ground next to the Augusta Canal and Interstate 20 that Bass Pro Shops once considered for an outdoor goods store will instead become the site for one of its chief rivals.

Cabela’s Inc. said Thursday that it will construct a 42,000-square-foot store near Costco at the Village at Riverwatch commercial development.

Though it came a day after the announcement of Bass Pro Shops’ new site for its Augusta store a few miles down the interstate, Cabela’s announcement was tied to its corporate earnings and not a response to the other store, said Walter Sprouse, the executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority.

Sprouse said construction will begin in a few months. Cabela’s said it will open next spring. Its Outpost style store will employ 90 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees.

The store will cost about $10 million to build, Sprouse said.

It will be Cabela’s first store in Georgia. The Nebraska-based retailer also announced a 100,000-square-foot store in Acworth, Ga., which will open a few months after Augusta’s.

“Cabela’s is very excited about our two Georgia locations,” said Tommy Millner, Cabela’s chief executive officer. “Georgia is full of outdoorsmen and -women who have supported our catalog and Web site for years. The Augusta Outpost store will be a great start to bringing Georgia the full Cabela’s retail experience.”

Cabela’s operates 45 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

Older Cabela’s stores cover nearly 200,000 square feet. Newer-generation stores are between 80,000 and 100,000 square feet, with the Outpost concept being half that size. The half-size stores are going into markets of fewer than 250,000 people. Cabela’s opened two Oupost stores in 2012.

Bass Pro Shops will open a smaller store concept on Mason McKnight Jr. Parkway near CarMax, covering about 50,000 square feet, by late 2014 or early 2015. That store will employ between 200 and 250 people.

Bass Pro Shops in 2008 picked a site at the Village at Riverwatch, but delays and the downturn in the economy slowed company growth and the company removed Augusta from its plans, only to resurface with the Columbia County deal Wednesday.

The Village at Riverwatch is a 92-acre development owned by Dallas firm MG Herring Group. The center’s concept has shifted over the past six years from lifestyle shopping center with high-end retailers to a Belk-anchored strip with a hotel. The first tenant was Costco in 2011. Cabela’s and a Georgia Theater Co. theater will be the next tenants.

Sprouse said the development authority has been working with Cabela’s for about nine months. The incentives involve extending streets and water to the property. He said he is unsure whether Cabela’s will participate in the tax allocation district in place for the commercial development.

“National retailers like this look at the strength of your local economy. When you see the expansion of Plant Vogtle, the NSA facility, the consolidation of the university, they’re seeing the strength ... and that’s why they’re investing in Augusta,” said Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

The Cabela’s store will be involved with the nearby canal.

“We have a development agreement with the owner,” said Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Augusta Canal Authority. “While we want this development, we don’t want it to negatively impact the nature.”

The street lighting will be pointed away from the canal, and there are height limitations to the buildings, he explained. The authority has committed to moving a trail to the development’s side of the canal so it can be accessed.

“Immediately behind the store, there’s some wetlands there. We’re planning on doing some boardwalks through there,” Sherrouse said. “So there are a lot of opportunities to partner with them on the canal.”

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