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Bass Pro Shops pick new spot for Augusta area sporting goods store

Store will be near CarMax on Columbia-Richmond County line

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 1:06 PM
Last updated 7:43 PM
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After five years of being on and off the drawing board, Bass Pro Shops has picked another location in the Augusta area for its sporting goods store.

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Company officials announced Wednesday that it will build a 50,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops Outpost on Mason McKnight Jr. Parkway near the intersection of Interstate 20 and Flowing Wells Road.

The store will employ between 200 and 250 people. Construction could begin as soon as November, and the store is scheduled to open in late 2014 or spring 2015, said Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson.

Columbia County officials held the news conference Wednesday to announce the store will be built there. Bass Pro’s original location was in Richmond County along River Watch Parkway. Those plans, voiced in 2008, never got off the ground. In 2011, the sporting goods chain placed its Augusta plans, and other potential stores across the nation, on hold because of the economy.

The project has been in the works for longer than eight months, Johnson said.

Bass Pro Shops’ director of conservation, Rob Keck, said he couldn’t speculate on why the Columbia County land was chosen ahead of the Richmond County site.

Public interest and a strong hunting and fishing base made the location attractive, as did its proximity to the interstate, he said.

“We like to have easy access,” Keck said. “In the retail business, it’s location, location, location.”

The site of the store is close to the Richmond County line. Its neighbor, CarMax, is in Richmond County.

The outdoors store will take up eight acres of a 58-acre undeveloped parcel, said property owner and developer Mason McKnight.

“We waited out the economy, and thank goodness this is where we are,” McKnight said. “It’s a great moment. It’s a domino effect. With this starts the rest of it.”

Efforts to bring the store to Columbia County was a collaboration among the county commission and staff members, McKnight and the Columbia County Development Authority. As an incentive, the county will install and maintain the public parking lot, which also will be used as a park-and-ride program for I-20 motorists, Johnson said.

Bass Pro Shops will purchase eight acres from McKnight, but six of those will be donated to Columbia County, Johnson said.

“They won’t have the tax burden on eight acres of property,” he said. “They’ll only have it on two acres where their vertical construction is.”

Another incentive – a payment in lieu of property taxes for a set period – has been offered but likely will not be used, Johnson said. It would require approval by both the county commission and the school board.

The cost of the store was not disclosed. The store will be one of the retailer’s Outpost concept stores, which can range from 50,000 to 100,000 square feet and are customized to reflect the outdoor tone of the region it serves. Other Bass Pro concepts include the Sportsman’s Center and the Outdoor World, which can be 150,000 square feet and larger.

The original Bass Pro store for the Villages of Riverwatch was scheduled for 100,000 square feet.

Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell said that he’d rather the outdoors retailer had decided to build in Richmond County but is excited to have the business “in the neighborhood.”

“Since we weren’t able to make that work for us, I’m glad Columbia County was able to,” he said. “It’s always a win for everyone.”

Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said the county did not compete with Richmond County to land the deal. The addition of Bass Pro Shops, he said, will provide boosts in sales tax revenue for both counties. The store also will attract other retail business to the area, he said.

“The big thing is that so many other companies want to be around a Bass Pro Shop,” said Cross, calling the project a “regional” one.

Local outdoorsmen say the popular chain’s commitment to the region will increase its appeal to out-of-town visitors.

Dan Eaton, a professional trapper, said the retailer will be a good fit for an area that already has an abundance of outdoor activities, including the lakes and the Augusta Canal.

“There are a lot of sportsmen in Augusta, and I believe support will be fantastic,” he said. “I shop at Bass Pro and can’t wait to just go down the road – instead of Atlanta.”

Bobby Wright, of Augusta, who has visited three Bass Pro stores in other areas, said it will be a successful venture in Augusta and could stimulate interest in fishing and hunting.

“I think this will be a huge thing for the area,” Wright said. The Savannah River, he said, is gaining popularity among anglers and paddlers, and experiments are underway to determine whether the canal could support a recreational trout fishery.

Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young, who is now the president and CEO of Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, said the store’s arrival is long overdue.

“It’s great they are coming,” he said, adding that discussions about getting Bass Pro to the area go back almost a decade.

Regardless of which side of the county line the store occupies, its presence – and visibility from an interstate highway – can only enhance awareness of the outdoors and the environment.

Young’s organization operates the popular Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, in addition to numerous environmental education and research programs. Bass Pro, he said, will be one more thing in the Augusta area that serves to bolster interest in the outdoors and ecotourism.

Staff Writer Rob Pavey contributed to this article.

Comments (72) Add comment
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bdouglas
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bdouglas 07/24/13 - 01:08 pm
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4
That's gotta chap somebody a

That's gotta chap somebody a little that it's not in Richmond County!

Glad to hear it! Now bring on Tanger, too!

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 07/24/13 - 01:11 pm
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2
let the spin begin...j/k

let the spin begin...j/k It's good for teh CSRA in general and that's good enough.

seenitB4
85152
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seenitB4 07/24/13 - 01:15 pm
10
2
Well now..whatta know :)

My husband LOVES this store.....great decision to put it there...Columbia county is growing with leaps & bounds..I would say some others are noticing that.♥

GnipGnop
11835
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GnipGnop 07/24/13 - 01:16 pm
10
5
Wait...you sure?

I thought they were coming to Augusta? With 5 guys in south augusta!! (10 months and counting)

countyman
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countyman 07/24/13 - 01:32 pm
8
12
I've said before Bass Pro

I'm excited Bass Pro is opening in Columbia County, and you guys need to get over the local comparisons. The store is located right at the Columbia/Richmond line. The CarMax and Gateway complex is located in Richmond County, and I've commented some of the land is located in Columbia County.

I've also said before that Bass Pro would pick the CarMax area or the VAR.. Some people on here claimed the store would open at the Grovetown exit, and I disagreed.

I have no problem with Columbia County(already live there), and only take up for Richmond in terms of the blatantly false comments.

These comments prove why Augusta still has a long way to go, because the metro doesn't work together enough. People want to compare Richmond/Columbia all the time, but forget developers are comparing us against Greenville, Chattanooga, Columbia, etc.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 07/24/13 - 01:20 pm
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3
@bdouglas

Would you be referring to countyman? He seems to always have the scoop on businesses and stuff in RC. Yeah, I bet he is at least one of many who are/will be chapped.

Sweet son
10037
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Sweet son 07/24/13 - 01:23 pm
5
4
Duck Dynasty guys.

Wouldn't it be great if BPS could get those guys to attend the grand opening!

countyman
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countyman 07/24/13 - 01:23 pm
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Sweetson... Are you denying I

Sweetson... Are you denying I haven't commented Bass Pro would open in the CarMax area or the VAR? I commented not too long ago they were clearing land in the Carmax area.

I'm the one who realizes developers build things based on metro areas, and the comments are very strange.

bdouglas
4899
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bdouglas 07/24/13 - 01:37 pm
11
3
"By golly, as long as I'm

"By golly, as long as I'm right, that's all that matters!"

bdouglas
4899
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bdouglas 07/24/13 - 01:53 pm
7
2
FYI, AC Editors

That photo is not an artist's rendering of the store coming to Columbia County. That's the same drawing they use on most of the news releases about new "Outpost" stores.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 07/24/13 - 01:55 pm
11
1
Again, it's coming to the

Again, it's coming to the CSRA and that's a good enough thing. Just be happy about it CMAN. It doesn't have to follow a template or be "envisioned". Capital goes where it's treated best sir.

triscuit
2991
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triscuit 07/24/13 - 01:58 pm
4
4
I agree that it will be good

I agree that it will be good for the whole area, but just think of the sales tax Richmond Co. will miss out on...

bdouglas
4899
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bdouglas 07/24/13 - 02:00 pm
9
2
The press release...

The actual press release has a pretty killer line in it:
"... the average customer stays 2 ½ hours and drives an average distance of 50+ miles."

I hope everyone understands the magnitude of that statement for our area!

tl-bro
151
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tl-bro 07/24/13 - 02:06 pm
7
2
Actually, its in Richmond County

Look at Richmond County Tax Map & Parcel No. 022-0-024-00-0. The site is mostly in Richmond County. Only a small portion is in Columbia County - not sure what's going on. The sites next to CarMax and across the street from CarMax are all in Richmond County. The closest Col. Co. tract is Map & Parcel No. is 079 042.

karradur
2848
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karradur 07/24/13 - 02:08 pm
2
8
Do we need this?

Really?

Why does this have to happen?

countyman
19716
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countyman 07/24/13 - 02:23 pm
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metro

David Parker.. My previous comment already stated I'm happy their coming. I find it strange that same few people always make the same remarks continuously .. Where were these comments when Costco opened? What will people say when the VAR begins to pick up steam later this year?

I think you might want to share the process of capital investment with some of the residents who live in your county. Many of them seem to believe the only wealthy neighborhoods or upper middle class residents exist in CC. Bass Pro building right at the Columbia/Richmond proves otherwise. There's people from Aiken County who like to bash Richmond, but Columbia is by far the worst. I didn't see any of the residents of RC make a huge deal about Costco not opening in Columbia County. They were obviously happy the store came to Augusta, but no comments related to Columbia. What if the residents of RC continued to point out the original proposed store was over 100,000 square feet, and this one going in CC is only 50k?

Triscuit... There's still land available in the CarMax area, and nobody said think of the sales tax CC missed lost in terms of Costco.

Sweet son
10037
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Sweet son 07/24/13 - 02:21 pm
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4
@countyman

Hey dude, we are just messing with you! We appreciate your efforts for RC because most of us lived there for the earlier portions of our lives. We know where we came from, not ashamed of it and are sad that our former communities have gone down because of drugs, crime and other things. Keep up the good work! :)

nocnoc
41065
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nocnoc 07/24/13 - 02:35 pm
9
4
Who cares where

We got FINALLY got a Bass Pro Shop.
It is a lot closer that 100 miles up or down the road now.

Besides being in Columbia Co. makes my purchases cheaper due to lower taxes.

If only I could win a 1 hour fish tank fishing prize there?

bdouglas
4899
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bdouglas 07/24/13 - 02:39 pm
7
4
Wait a minute...

A couple weeks ago CM said "I used to lived [sic] in Evans before and now live the CBD.. [sic]"

Today he says "... I have no problem with Columbia County(already live there)"

Interesting...

And a week ago he was referring to the Village at Riverwatch, saying "This property can easily attract Dave & Busters, movie theater, Cheesecake Factory, Trader Joes, Whole Fiods, Brooks Brothers, J Crew, REI, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro, Lucky Brand, Chipotle, California Pizza Kitchen, Container Store, Lacoste, Hilton or their Embassy Suites hotel, etc."

And today he wants to claim he knew it all along...it was practically his idea! Sounds to me like it was just as much of a surprise to him.

I don't care either way. I really don't. All I'm saying is give it a rest. Troll it up over at the City-Data website with your buds, Nortonguy. The pattern is just tiring.

obkad
222
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obkad 07/24/13 - 02:44 pm
8
3
jobs

Another fine example of how Columbia County is leaving the Bros. of Richmond county in the dust....................

Little Lamb
45276
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Little Lamb 07/24/13 - 03:02 pm
8
2
Style

@ bdouglas — you've got to read countyman loosely. He is careless with his plurals, his commas, and his tenses.

RMSHEFF
15705
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RMSHEFF 07/24/13 - 03:04 pm
8
4
I wonder if the dysfunctional

I wonder if the dysfunctional government in Augusta had any effect on the decision. Augusta could be going the way of Detroit soon ! They mainly wanted to be near I-20.

Marinerman1
4616
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Marinerman1 07/24/13 - 03:10 pm
7
2
Countyman is Spot On

While I don't always agree with Countyman on things, this time I have to agree with his very first post on this thread. You got my vote this time guy. I'm ready. Told a buddy of mine that lives in SC -- I take my money over the river for your cheap gas, and now you are going to have to bring your SC money to my side of the river to BPS...!

triscuit
2991
Points
triscuit 07/24/13 - 03:24 pm
4
3
I am sure the Col. County tax

I am sure the Col. County tax departments miss the sales tax at Costco, countyman.

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 07/24/13 - 03:26 pm
5
3
Lots of tax money coming to

Lots of tax money coming to Columbia County...eventually, depending on the deal.

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 07/24/13 - 03:27 pm
5
2
A new Regal Cinema will open

A new Regal Cinema will open at the Costco site.

deannehall
3
Points
deannehall 07/24/13 - 03:27 pm
1
5
transportation

How is the transportation flow? When the property was originally rezoned, the concern was the flow of traffic in and out of the property. Haven't been there in over a year, so it may be a non issue. Surprised they landed there, felt the Riverwatch was a done deal. How about that??

bdouglas
4899
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bdouglas 07/24/13 - 03:30 pm
10
1
Reality Check...

This is still GREAT news, but just a little reality check for outdoor fans with visions of what you've seen in Atlanta, Charlotte, etc. at the Bass Pro stores....this one isn't anything like those. This store is roughly the same size as Dick's Sporting Goods at the mall. It is certainly a great addition to Columbia County, just keep it in perspective!

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 07/24/13 - 03:44 pm
6
1
Could they enlarge later?

Since this appears to be half the size of the original plans, I wonder if they could easily enlarge later? In Tacoma, WA plans were just announced for a 170,000 sq ft store and grill.

deestafford
26052
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deestafford 07/24/13 - 03:36 pm
5
2
I just heard over the radio that a Regal Cinema is locating

close to Costco. That will bring some folks from SC and the area around that section of Augusta/Martinez there.

From what I understand/remember, Gander Mountain was coming to where the Bass Pro is going.

I would have like to have seen 100,000 sq ft store but any size BP is a good deal. Academy Sports will still be a good buy also. They are usually less expensive on some things than BP.

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