Ground broken on “heart of county”

Columbia County leaders officially broke ground at the site Tuesday of what they say will be the heart of the county.

Ground work has already begun on a multi-use development complete with office, retail and restaurant space next door to a new 2,000-seat performing arts center, triggering what officials are calling an exciting time in Columbia County.

For those who grew up in the county, like Meybohm Realtors Presi­dent Mike Polatty, the area is unrecognizable from his childhood days in the 1960s, he told the crowd gathered for the groundbreaking. The Plaza, he said, presented a rare opportunity to add their own contribution to the county’s history books.

“What we had here was two churches, a general store, two service stations and a first through twelfth grade school and we had a community of people who lived and worked together and enjoyed the quality of life in Columbia County,” Polatty said. “In the development business, rarely do you have a chance to go back in time and recreate something. And today, for us that’s what this means. For E.G. (Meybohm), myself, all the people on the development team, the county, we get a chance to do something truly unique to start over and define something for the future.”

E.G. Meybohm and Meybohm Realtors are the private piece of the public-private partnership that helped make the area possible, according to Columbia County commission chairman Ron Cross.

“(E.G. Meybohm) brought the money that made this happen,” Cross said.

Meybohm Realtors will occupy one-third of the first 57,000 square foot, three-story building, where the company plans to relocate their agents and staff currently at their Belair Road location, according to Polatty.

A roof-top terrace, which can accommodate some 300 people, will overlook the downtown area and Lady Antebellum Pavilion. Storefronts at street level will accommodate restaurants and other retailers that were not named at the groundbreaking.

The building will be just one part of The Plaza’s entire footprint which will total more than 300,000 square feet.

“The master plan calls for a center park with the new Columbia County Performing Arts Center anchoring at one end of the park and then we have a total of six buildings that will surround that greenspace and lead down to the performing arts center,” Polatty said.

Cross paid special thanks to the residents of Columbia County, who he credited with making the vision into reality with the passage of the SPLOST and the general obligation bond.

“The bond issue is making a lot of this possible, the SPLOST you have approved in the past, it’s a county collaborative,” Cross said. “The support has been great. Your confidence in what we are doing is just outstanding.”

Columbia County voters approve bond
David Jefferson 7 days ago
Interesting...Columbia County want to build a downtown while many in Richmond County loathe theirs. 
Jim Hall 7 days ago
You give us your money CC and we will spend it.  Absolute fact.
Guy Gene 7 days ago
For what I can tell, most younger people and many older people (like us) do not like suburbs and want to live in downtown areas. I'd rather be on a lot of acreage in the real country or right in downtown. Cookie cutter style suburbs have never been my style, and we have never lived in a suburban development, just cannot get to liking that type housing. I know this is a small "downtown", but at least it might be a step in the right direction. We shall see.
Tabatha Santee 7 days ago
Where will people park for events now?
Roland SASSER 7 days ago
I have the same question Tabatha, where are we going to park. I kind of liked that big open undeveloped space. More buildings, more people, more traffic?
David Jefferson 7 days ago
Creating problems where currently there are none...yay.
Lisa Kolb 7 days ago
Well it can't and won't remain a huge, undeveloped lot. I have lived here 10 years and that area has remained mostly barren. 
Patrick Daugherty 7 days ago
This is awesome addition to Evans! I have been to plazas like this in Charlotte and Atlanta and they are great destinations for shopping, dining and concerts.  There will be a parking deck built to alleviate parking concerns.  People here in town are always asking for more places to go and things to do--here is the answer!
Gray Seey 7 days ago
I have mixed feelings on this. Part of me is glad for the progress, but the other part of me is disappointed in taking over such a nice large expanse of land for commercial use. I used to love the area where the amphitheater now sits for its simple openness, and accepted the change given the large area across the street. Now there is already a "high-rise" in the tax building, and soon another similar structure will go up for a realty company. Guess that's progress these days.

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