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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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David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/24/13 - 03:41 pm
4
3
x2 on Sweet son's comments

Cman is a homer. He's like the fan that roots for the Kentucky Wildcat football program. Despite win/loss ratio, he stays ramped-up and intends to win the next game regardless. It's a compliment and he plays the part quite well. Never change

Riverman1
83848
Points
Riverman1 07/24/13 - 04:14 pm
8
1
I checked all their stores

I checked all their stores and this one is tiny. The Macon store is 120,000 sq. ft. and the Savannah store is 103,000. I really don't get why it's so small? A brand new store only 50,000 sq ft?

bdouglas
5008
Points
bdouglas 07/24/13 - 04:21 pm
4
1
The Savannah store is

The Savannah store is actually in a regular shopping mall and feels *extremely* small compared to any other Bass Pro I've been to because it's 2 stories and, as such, has standard mall-height ceilings. The one at Concord Mills in Charlotte is only 3K or so square feet larger than that one but feels monstrous in comparison. Wonder if the square footage they list is the building footprint or actual floor space in the store? If it's just the footprint and this one has 2 floors like many of them do, it might not be as small as it sounds.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/24/13 - 04:38 pm
3
1
BFD

... I go by the BPS store at Discovery Mill whenever I'm visiting family; everything I shop for is more expensive than Academy, and never any ammunition on the shelves.

Riverman1
83848
Points
Riverman1 07/24/13 - 04:40 pm
4
2
Bdouglas

You could be right about it being two stories and the 50,000 sq ft is only the footprint, but I doubt it. That site is empty land that doesn't cost a lot compared to other locations. Why would they go two stories? I also saw where their store being built in New Jersey is 200,000 sq ft.

bdouglas
5008
Points
bdouglas 07/24/13 - 04:48 pm
4
4
RM

"Why would they go two stories?"

To keep it in Columbia County? It's already been noted that most of that empty land still resides in Richmond County. Maybe up is the way to go to stay in the county and keep whatever incentives they were offered by CC? Just a thought anyway.

Riverman1
83848
Points
Riverman1 07/24/13 - 04:55 pm
3
2
BDouglas, well that's

BDouglas, well that's something I hadn't thought of, but the whole announcement would have been different if that were the case, I'm guessing. When the Walmart on Bobby Jones was built on the county line some kind of deal was worked out with one county getting all the sales tax if it completed the drainage works. I'm pretty sure Columbia Cty. gets the taxes. Anyway, I guess we'll find out for sure later.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 07/25/13 - 12:03 pm
4
9
growth

I dont't claim to have first hand access to every single development. I do remembering commenting numerous times that Bass Pro would open at the VAR or WTP.

The real problem consist of wanting to portray Columbia or Aiken as much better places to live versus Richmond. Why else would some people care so deeply about me promoting Richmond?

My comments similar to me saying how I didn't think Bass Pro will consider the exit 5 area in North Augusta or the Grovetown exit are much different from the daily sky is falling comments. None of my comments are negative exaggerations or blatantly false. The people who don't want to see new growth in RC accuse me of not being appreciative of the growth in the suburbs.

I should have used the word 'lived' instead of 'live'.

The Wheeler Town Park was originally a 300,000 square feet shopping destination. Gander Mountain and Nothern Toole were two of the first retailers planned before the recession.

OJP
6634
Points
OJP 07/24/13 - 05:39 pm
2
4
I agree that the county contest nonsense has to stop.

It's all the same metro area, and what is good for one is good for all (and what is bad for one is bad for all).

For the vast majority of economic forces, county lines are just lines on paper, i.e., non-existent. The economic growth generated by the store, including the income of 200+ new employees, will benefit the entire area, not just this county or that county.

It's actually quite fitting that it is practically in both counties. This is good for us all and we should act like we understand that.

dichotomy
32906
Points
dichotomy 07/24/13 - 05:43 pm
5
5
Five Guys....and I'm

Five Guys....and I'm waiting...and waiting....and waiting.

And can we get George Patty to stick his head up once again and remind us of the "pending explosive growth" in South Richmond County as his reasoning for rezoning our land so they could raise the taxes. I think George Patty's planning and zoning insight is a perfect match for our "downtown" clown commissioners. They deserve each other but the rural taxpayers sure didn't do anything to deserve him.

I'm glad to see SOME areas of the CSRA prospering. We are getting some HUD Rental Houses in South Augusta.....and probably a RAIN TAX to go with our high dollar Residential property and the ditches out front.

Guess I'll just hole up here and run in supplies and fuel in from North Augusta. Don't look like I'll be having to go out to Five Guys or any other phantom non-existent South Augusta restaurant anytime soon. And there is certainly no stores to go shopping in except our high class Big Lots....oh yeh....and we do have a Lowes if I get a burning urge to buy a faucet supply tube or something.

Congrats on the BPS CC. They made a wise decision coming that way. I'm starting to think Five Guys is rethinking their decision too. And RC hasn't made a wise decision in 17 years, but with people like our downtown clowns, "what, me worry Fred", and George Patty, I'm not surprised. They have all done everything possible to run anyone, any restaurant, and any retail with the financial wherewithal to move out of the half of the geographical land mass of the county.

GnipGnop
12231
Points
GnipGnop 07/24/13 - 06:02 pm
4
2
I agree Dichotomy

times 100

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 07/24/13 - 06:30 pm
4
3
Major Growth coming to the

Major Growth coming to the VAR... Captain Obvious has been furloughed..

Update... Major Growth has been reassigned to Columbia County

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 07/24/13 - 07:52 pm
1
6
South Augusta

Dichotomy... Both Aiken and Columbia counties already have a rain tax..

The Starbucks and Rockwood plants are more important than any retailer coming to Augusta...

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 07/24/13 - 09:06 pm
3
3
but, but, but.... what of

but, but, but.... what of Cookout? and Five Guys?

triscuit
3084
Points
triscuit 07/24/13 - 09:10 pm
5
1
What is the big deal about

What is the big deal about Five Guys? Truly overrated.

Dixieman
14943
Points
Dixieman 07/24/13 - 09:59 pm
4
2
Ehhhhxcellent!

My minions currently working in Sector 7G will be overjoyed to be able to buy quality fishing stuff so close to my nuclear plant so they can catch three-eyed carp. C. Montgomery Burns

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 07/24/13 - 10:07 pm
2
2
The minions featuring Gru are

The minions featuring Gru are playing Sector 7G? Awesome!

Ok...off thread, way out there, subtle attempt at humor.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 07/24/13 - 10:52 pm
1
4
Major Growth

I hate to disappoint the usual suspects, but the entire VAR property and the majority of the CarMax area is located in Richmond County.

Major growth is definitely still coming to Richmond, and major growth is already underway presently.

Please go ahead and have your fun now, because the comments will change very soon in the near future.

Augustaboy
52
Points
Augustaboy 07/25/13 - 02:03 am
3
1
Amen

Richmond County, Columbia County, Aiken County, THE CSRA. WHO CARES!? We are getting a store that people travel to shop at. At which (for you calculator deprived people) means DOLLARS. Yes, money! So set aside your ignorance for once, since you all comment on every single issue, and happen to be wrong one ever single ONE; this store is just the anchor. It will bring in $1000's of dollars in taxes and tenants that will do just as well. I cannot figure you people out, you hate every single thing that the CSRA brings you. Either A.) You have too much time on your hands that you can post on every subject or B.) You should move. Because, WE are moving forward. Thanks for coming. Goodnight.

Augustaboy
52
Points
Augustaboy 07/25/13 - 02:13 am
0
3
And countyman I like you but

And countyman I like you but you're wrong. Bass Pro( as stated in the press release) will employ 200+ people. Excuse my own ignorance and please tell me how many Starbucks plans on employing? Bass Pro happens to be an anchor tenant in a supreme location. I think they will bring on many more retailers. Cheers CSRA. We ARE growing.

Riverman1
83848
Points
Riverman1 07/25/13 - 05:40 am
3
1
Y'all Talk Too Much

AugustaBoy, who's hating? It's coming to Columbia County and that's that. However, your concept of people saying too much on here is a little suspect.

What's the opposite? Don't read and say too much? Just accept what happens without comments? That sounds like a young apartment developer who is much happier when he is allowed to slap low cost rental units over the CSRA like an 11 year old putting a stack of hotels on a Monopoly board without regards to the impact on governmental services and neighborhoods. Just roll the dice and be quiet, huh?

kcook63
5
Points
kcook63 07/25/13 - 06:07 am
3
2
It is about time

I am so glad to be living in Columbia County where the folks there have proven time and time again that they are ready and willing to help the county grow. Sure, things still move slowly but they get it done. Augusta for years had their chance to bring Bass Pro in and boost the economy but they kept dragging their feet. So often in the past Augusta politicians refused to see the large picture and how things would help the folks and the economy of the 2nd largest city in Georgia. Most if not all of the time the Augusta politicians are in it for themselves only. I applaude Columbia county for bringing this large retailer to the area. It will be a blessing for all.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 07/25/13 - 12:06 pm
3
2
Starbucks

Augustaboy... The Costco was around $20 million, and the Bass Pro is probably in the same ball park. The Starbucks plant is a $172 million development, and consist of 140 high paying jobs..

I welcome the new retail jobs, but they don't compare with the salaries of engineers..

There's been a Bass Pro located in Macon(larger than the one coming here), and the city didn't attract high paying due to the store opening.

The Starbucks plant won the 2012 ''GA Deal of the Year'' in the large city category, and was ranked honorable mention by Site Selection for the top economic developments in the US.

The Bass pro will attract other retailers, but the Starbucks plant will attract other large companies.. Anybody including teenagers still in high school will be able to land jobs at the Bass Pro, but not at the Starbucks plant.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 07/25/13 - 06:38 am
1
4
Kcoook63... How did Augusta

Kcoook63... How did Augusta drag their feet? Bass Pro completely stop building during the recession, and this including more than Augusta...

The economy started to improve, but Costco was already interested in the VAR site by then..

Augusta is also the third largest city in Georgia... Richmond County is the second largest county outside of metro Atlanta, and were the 2nd biggest metro area.

Riverman1
83848
Points
Riverman1 07/25/13 - 06:43 am
2
2
Interesting comparison of the

Interesting comparison of the number of workers Bass Pro will hire vs. the Starbucks factory. I doubt Starbucks will have many engineers. Most workers will be doing manual things in the procedure I'd guess. Still Starbucks will probably pay their blue collar workers well since this store is an experiment in North America.

Kcook, Augusta's biggest problem is exotic and possibly problematic politicians.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 07:46 am
0
0
The 2nd largest city in the largest state east of the Mississipp
Unpublished

can't support a REAL BASS PROSHOP

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 07:48 am
0
0
CSRA demographics can't support a "real" BP. Profit & loss.
Unpublished

CSRA demographics can't support a "real" BP. Profit & loss.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 07:48 am
0
0
"Bait& switch". LOL Show one design, build another. LOL
Unpublished

"Bait& switch". LOL Show one design, build another. LOL

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 07:50 am
0
0
Indicative of the respect CSRA garners from profit seekers.
Unpublished

Indicative of the respect CSRA garners from profit seekers.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/25/13 - 07:51 am
0
0
Mickey Mouse political septic tank pretends to be metropolis.
Unpublished

Mickey Mouse political septic tank pretends to be metropolis.

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