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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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Riverman1
79032
Points
Riverman1 07/25/13 - 08:17 am
3
0
Cabela's will open a 42,000

Cabela's will open a 42,000 sq ft "Outpost" store close to Costco.

David Parker
7919
Points
David Parker 07/25/13 - 08:21 am
2
1
alot of the problem with

alot of the problem with operations choosing non-Richmond county locations is the mess that Augusta gov has created. Look at all the negatives, be it real or perceived, in the comments of the local online newspaper. I wouldn't want to come to a place that has such a disconnect between the folks that live there and the local gov. Business owners do their homework before deciding on where to start-up. It would appear Bass Pro did theirs and made a decision.

David Parker
7919
Points
David Parker 07/25/13 - 08:22 am
1
0
I buy my Rooster Tails and

I buy my Rooster Tails and Chicken livers at Pair of Jacks anyway

corgimom
27363
Points
corgimom 07/25/13 - 09:49 am
3
2
"The real problem consist of

"The real problem consist of wanting to portray Columbia or Aiken as much better places to live versus Richmond."

Nobody needs to "portray" anything, the population figures don't lie.

However, one thing I would like to mention.

These new stores are duplicates of what already exists. Just as Costco cannibalizes from grocery stores and drug stores, so will BPS from other sporting goods retailers. Nobody will say, "Hey, I'll take up fishing and hunting, now that Bass Pro is here."

And that's the thing. If you cut a pie into smaller pieces, you don't have more pies. You have more slices, but you still only have one pie.

These stores don't generate anything, they serve what already exists. This huge growth that people are expecting- well, don't count your flocks until all the eggs have hatched.

bigj706
965
Points
bigj706 07/25/13 - 10:26 am
3
2
A very true statement

A very true statement corgimon

TCB22
596
Points
TCB22 07/25/13 - 11:38 am
1
1
Not very true

People will travel great distances for Bass Pro. It's unique to everything else. I'm thinking about taking up fishing myself.

countyman
19038
Points
countyman 07/25/13 - 12:08 pm
1
5
What population figures?

What population figures? Please tell me about of these magical places in the CSRA that are better areas to live compared to West Augusta, Summerville, Forest Hills, etc.

corgimom
27363
Points
corgimom 07/25/13 - 03:36 pm
3
1
The census population

The census population figures, Countyman. The growth rate of those counties, Countyman.

Just because you think that West Augusta, Summerville, and Forest Hills are the best places to live in the CSRA, doesn't mean everybody thinks that. I wouldn't live there if I was given a free house.

In fact, I wouldn't live anywhere in RC. And many people obviously share my opinion.

I guess your aspirations are to someday move there.

Those big houses along Walton Way and Summerville for sale are just sitting on the market, nobody is interested in them. I remember a time when every one of them sold within 2 weeks, they were THE place to live.

The people with money are now going to CC, where they can get more bang for their buck and far better schools and far better quality of life.

And that's what you don't get, Countyman- it's a quality of life issue.

countyman
19038
Points
countyman 07/25/13 - 05:50 pm
1
4
Facts not opinions

Aiken County and Richmond gained around the same number of people in the latest census(2012 estimate). Richmond will grow much faster than Aiken on the next estimate, and eventually surpass Columbia..

The real estate prices clearly show their among the top places to live, and people are continuing to move into Summerville daily.

Riverman1
79032
Points
Riverman1 07/25/13 - 05:56 pm
2
1
"Richmond will grow much

"Richmond will grow much faster than Aiken on the next estimate, and eventually surpass Columbia.."

Any evidence to base that on? Remember Columbia County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.

corgimom
27363
Points
corgimom 07/25/13 - 11:10 pm
1
1
"and people are continuing to

"and people are continuing to move into Summerville daily."

And you know that, how, Countyman? Do you track the moves into Summerville, in between your cruising the parking lots to look for SC tags, that you know are from Columbia?

The Summerville I know was built out years ago. Is there new construction there that I'm unaware of? Because people weren't moving into it daily before. In fact, it was a very stable area, and people tended to own their houses for years. Turnover was low.

"Aiken County and Richmond gained around the same number of people in the latest census(2012 estimate)." The numbers I read said that Aiken County gained more, and considering that Aiken County is smaller in population than RC, should be viewed as proof that Aiken County is more attractive to residents.

But then you look at the growth of Columbia County...7500 people in two years, over 3 times the growth of RC. Wow. If you extrapolate that out, that would be an increase of 37,500 people in 2020.

No, Richmond County isn't going to surpass Aiken or CC, that's a pleasant fantasy you have Countyman. Unless you want to say that RC is going to grow by over 33,000 people in the next few years. *snort*

corgimom
27363
Points
corgimom 07/25/13 - 11:11 pm
0
0
But since Bass Pro is only

But since Bass Pro is only going to build a small shop, is it going to be the Half-Bass?

countyman
19038
Points
countyman 07/26/13 - 12:09 am
1
0
Facts

There's TONS of new construction in Augusta that you're unaware of. I said all of the tags in the Costco parking lot weren't from Aiken, and not how you can tell they were from Columbia. Cranes Place is a small new neighborhood moving forward on the Hill. The area is already built up, but more people are moving into the existing homes. Midtown is also starting to grow much faster. The opening of the 5 o'clock Bistro, Two Moms Cookies, doctors office, two new duplexes, Indian Queen, Buona Caffe, etc clearly shows the growth.

I don't know why you think Richmond Couty will continue to grow at the same rate. The 200 acre Haynes Station neighborhood is just beginning to pick up steam, and several other new subdivisions are underway along with new homes in existing neighborhoods.

The Gateway, Sage Creek, and Fort Gordon Place complexes are under construction. Helena Woods, the apartments in the Village at Riverwatch, and the community on Alexander road begin soon. Many buildings are being renovated in the CBD.

I haven't even mentioned the Cultural/Mills campuses, Artspace, Golf & Gardens property, Watermark site, demolishing of Cherry Tree, Laney Walker/Bethlehem revitalization, etc.

Why do you think GA theater company is building a new theater p(including a restaurant/in-theater dining) if Richmond County will continue to grow at the same rate.

GnipGnop
11432
Points
GnipGnop 07/26/13 - 09:30 am
0
1
Duh!!

The same reason Costco, Cabelas and Bass Pro Built. The I-20 Corridor at a state line. When is the last time anything decent was built on the South Side? When is the last time anyone on the South Side got a bang for their ever increasing tax bill. Mine has increased 600 dollars in 10 years and nothing to show for it. Downtown sure has gottten some wonderful Billy Morris/Paul Simon upgrades though. Let's not forget the Marriott TEE center that is empty every time I ride by it....

lovingthesouth72
1362
Points
lovingthesouth72 07/26/13 - 01:28 pm
0
0
go figure -

"Those plans, voiced in 2008, never got off the ground." - Standard Operating Procedure for Richmond "lame" County

lovingthesouth72
1362
Points
lovingthesouth72 07/26/13 - 02:48 pm
0
0
TANGER,

How about a TANGER outlet mall????? Please????

Augustaboy
52
Points
Augustaboy 07/31/13 - 10:35 pm
0
0
TO RIVERMAN1

Riverman,

When selecting a site for (yes) apartments, you look at employment, average income age % of homeowners and % of renters price PSF etc etc etc. That requires a lot of reading. So for someone as yourself to talk down to me, as if I am a 11 year old developer, maybe you can assist me in finding new sites, new locations. Where all of the above fit the criteria I'm looking for- DONE DEAL. since you're so brilliant contact me and we can set some sort of structure up. Until then, leave it alone and be glad Augusta (CSRA) is doing what's it's doing. Cheers.

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