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Outlet mall would employ 1,500 in Augusta

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 2:13 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 8:46 AM
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An Atlanta-based retail developer planning to put a fashion outlet mall in Augusta said it would create 1,500 jobs when completed in 2016.

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Ben Carter, the chairman of Ben Carter Enterprises, speaks during Wednesday's outlet mall announcement, as Henry Ingram (from left), the chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority; Corey Johnson, the mayor pro-tem; and Mayor Deke Copenhaver listen.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Ben Carter, the chairman of Ben Carter Enterprises, speaks during Wednesday's outlet mall announcement, as Henry Ingram (from left), the chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority; Corey Johnson, the mayor pro-tem; and Mayor Deke Copenhaver listen.

Officials for Ben Carter Enterprises visited the Village at Riverwatch along Interstate 20 on Wednesday to officially announce an intent to build a 30-space outlet mall, named Premier Outlets of Georgia @ Augusta, in time for the 2016 Masters Tournament. The total project investment is about $150 million.

Company founder Ben Carter said that no tenants have been confirmed for the development but that he has received initial interest from key retailers. He did not disclose the names of any possible stores.

Carter, who arrived in Augusta in his personal helicopter, said common outlet retailers such as Gap, Banana Republic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach and Nike signed on board for his outlet mall to open this spring in Savannah, Ga.

The Augusta project would be of a similar size to the Savannah development, which is about 80 percent leased, he said.

For the Augusta center, Carter said, he’d like to have tenant committals for 50 percent of the 400,000-square-foot space by midsummer and break ground by November.

“Typically in our business, we’ve got to get a number of those to want to come and then you build the momentum,” he said.

A site plan of the project shows that the core of the outdoor mall would be clustered behind the Delta Air Lines and Comcast buildings. There also are parcels along the Cabela Drive entrance designated for restaurants, a gym, a hotel, a bank and other retail uses.

Carter said his interest piqued in the site about a decade ago when he considered putting a town center-style mall there but was deterred by the area’s market size. The location off Interstate 20 provides ample visibility and access to motorists, he said.

“Then when I learned Costco had come, that was really exciting,” he said. “For an outlet mall, that’s a great neighbor. When Cabela’s came, it was the icing on the cake.”

Ben Carter Enterprises was formed in 1993 and has developed several shopping centers and malls, including the Mall of Georgia in Gwinnett County and St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, Fla. Carter said his firm entered the outlet mall arena about a year ago.

Carter and Augusta officials are still in the process of working out a “reasonable” incentive package, but no other details were provided.

The proposed commercial development is expected to garner about $200 million in overall sales tax revenue.

“It’s huge,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. “When you’re talking about the sales tax impact, a lot of those dollars generated will be from visitors from outside the area into our local economy. It really will be a regional draw, so they’ll be bringing in people from Columbia, S.C., from as far away as Lake Oconee (Ga.).”

Fifty acres of the development went through the first phase of a rezoning process Monday, a necessary step to bring the outlet mall to the site. The land is zoned light industry and multiple-family residential, and developers are seeking a general business zoning.

The Village at Riverwatch is a 92-acre development owned by Dallas firm MG Herring Group. The first tenant was Costco in 2011.

The center’s concept has changed over the past six years from a lifestyle shopping center with high-end retailers to a Belk-anchored strip with a hotel.

In 2008, Bass Pro Shops picked a site in the development, but Augusta was removed from its plan after delays and bad economic conditions. Bass Pro also announced plans last year to build a store in Columbia County, but pulled out of that project, too.

This is the first area outlet mall to materialize but not the first to make waves in the community. Since 2011, local real estate firm Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial had tested the waters for an outlet mall in Gateway shopping center, off the Grovetown exit of Interstate 20, but solid plans never formulated.

Last summer, the company’s senior vice president, Matt Mills, said that outlet retailers were reluctant to locate in metro Augusta because of the city’s small market size and because they didn’t want to compete with their primary retail stores already established.

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countyman
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countyman 02/05/14 - 03:19 pm
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Deke and North Richmond= winning combination

Thank you mayor Deke and North Richmond county... The mayor helped provide the growing economy and North Richmond supplied the necessary demographics..

Augusta is easily one of the best small/mid size cities in the south for shopping.

bdouglas
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bdouglas 02/05/14 - 03:27 pm
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Glad to hear it, but probably

Glad to hear it, but probably one of the worst kept secrets in a while! People have known about it for weeks now!

Dixieman
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Dixieman 02/05/14 - 03:29 pm
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YES!!

Great news for the whole CSRA. Can everyone lay off the bickering and be positive today?

GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 02/05/14 - 04:01 pm
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Good news but

doubtful Deke did anything other than show up for the media part.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 02/05/14 - 04:12 pm
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Outlet mall should employ 1,500 in Augusta

at the same time?

kidding. Congrats CMan!!!!

pja5529
1921
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pja5529 02/05/14 - 04:14 pm
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Gnip Gnop

I acutally attended the press conference and Ben Carter along with his CEO, Commissioner Cory Johnson and several with the Development Authority gave a lot of credit to Mayor Copenhaver and stated he was very instrumental helping this come to Augusta.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 02/05/14 - 04:15 pm
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So happy to hear this good

So happy to hear this good news. Unfortunately, it isn't good news for the owners of the Augusta Mall. Check out Premiers line up of their typical stores.

countyman
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countyman 02/05/14 - 04:36 pm
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Augusta mall

The two story H&M is under construction at the mall and Michael Kors opened last year... Many retailers in the state of Georgia are only located in the Augusta mall and metro Atlanta(Apple, PF Changs, Sephora, Pandora, Michael Kors, Jared Galleria, H&M).. A few of those retailers don't even have a store in the Greenville or Columbia market yet.

The Jimmie Dyess/Belair rd/Gordon Hwy(between Jimmie Dyess/Grovetown)area is full of new subdivisions(many homes between $200,000-$310,000) within close proximity of the Augusta mall..

GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 02/05/14 - 04:38 pm
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Well of course they

wouldn't bad mouth him now would they? I'm still not buying it. He's a stuffed shirt and if he had anything to do with this then there is something in it for him or somebody near him.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/05/14 - 04:52 pm
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An Ideal Location

It's an ideal location in pleasant West Augusta. It will be safe as anything can possibly be. No buses, isolated back off a parkway in an almost island setting, impossible for people to access unless they are driving. As the owner said, it has a great area locally to draw on, plus the interstate traffic. This will be a much different clientele than Augusta Mall.

Riverman1
84198
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Riverman1 02/05/14 - 04:56 pm
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4
Willow, I read some of that

Willow, I read some of that. It appears they are often spin-off stores of those in the existing local malls. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. One thing for sure, that's going to be a busy site with Costco and Cabela's already drawing a good crowd. I'm going to enjoy it.

countyman
20149
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countyman 02/05/14 - 05:06 pm
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The CSRA must work together to reach the full potential!

Dixieman.. I hope everyone can't stop from bickering today, but some of your comments add fuel to the fire..

If everybody living in Richmond County were to follow your advice and then move to Columbia/Aiken counties. The outlet mall wouldn't even be coming to the CSRA.. The Grovetown exit and the two exits in North Augusta are isolated when compared up against Riverwatch Pkwy. The Village at Riverwatch is within 30 minutes of the CBD, West Augusta, Aiken, Martinez, South Augusta, Forest Hills, Evans, Southwest Augusta, North Augusta, Hephzibah, Grovetown, Summerville, and Graniteville.

pja5529
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pja5529 02/05/14 - 05:06 pm
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Gnip Gnop

Of course they wouldn't bad mouth him but they didn't have to go out of their way to mention him numerous times either. Nor would they have to lie and say they met with him several times to get the project rolling

pja5529
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pja5529 02/05/14 - 05:07 pm
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Riverman

Not sure what clientele you are referring to at Augusta Mall. There hasn't been any trouble there in years. Besides the bus will probably go out there too.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 02/05/14 - 05:16 pm
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Hi, River, yes, I agree, it's

Hi, River, yes, I agree, it's very good news for CC, West Augusta, and all the way up to Greene County. I hope the Mall can sustain. Just going on what I have seen happen to them in other areas when the outlets open. Typically, they close or go downhill. My favorite part of Augusta Mall is the Promenade. The new outlet is a great asset to both CC and Richmond County. Congrats and mucho gracious to those who are making this happen!!!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/05/14 - 05:35 pm
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PJA5529

PJA5529, how would you know if there had been an incident at the mall? They don't release info like that. They certainly have a large mall police force for some reason. Nights and weekends, the mall is full of kids. The former Chief of Security at the mall, a former SC small town police chief, once told me parents left their young teens there all day. He said he often called the parents of some who had been there all day.

I think this outlet mall would be foolish to ask for local bus service. Matter of fact, they should deny it if the subject is every brought up. It's private property.

internationallyunknown
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internationallyunknown 02/05/14 - 05:54 pm
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Yay!

Good news!

pja5529
1921
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pja5529 02/05/14 - 05:55 pm
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Info

They have released info in the past. Besides those young teens you are talking about probably get dropped off in cars...which means they could get dropped off there too. I see teens there well after the time the bus shuts down so obviously they are not riding the bus. Besides the nearest bus stop isn't that far from the site anyway.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 06:37 pm
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Commerce GA, Boaz AL, Gaffney SC, Boone NC Outlet Malls????
Unpublished

Commerce GA, Boaz AL, Gaffney SC, Boone NC Outlet Malls????

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 06:40 pm
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All stores are outlets. Really folks. Sales at Mall are better.
Unpublished

All stores are outlets. Really folks. Sales at Mall are better.

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 06:41 pm
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Recreation for the bored and mindless. Entertainment. LOL
Unpublished

Recreation for the bored and mindless. Entertainment. LOL

countyman
20149
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countyman 02/05/14 - 06:42 pm
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North Richmond to CBD

"That site is connected to downtown by the canal, so you can have canal cruises coming from our city center and hotels downtown to go shop at Cabela's. It's a win win," said Copenhaver.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 02/05/14 - 06:56 pm
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Also good news for our

Also good news for our visitors coming in town for one day or several. Shopping isn't one of my favorite things to do, but plenty of folks like it. This is great news!

corgimom
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corgimom 02/05/14 - 07:43 pm
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I agree with Countyman, RC

I agree with Countyman, RC has the necessary demographics for workers. Low-paying retail, part-time jobs, no high school diploma required.

corgimom
32620
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corgimom 02/05/14 - 07:46 pm
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Countyman, yes, if everybody

Countyman, yes, if everybody moved to Aiken County and Columbia County, yes, the outlet mall would still come. They expect shoppers within a 75 mile radius to shop there.

corgimom
32620
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corgimom 02/05/14 - 07:47 pm
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I still wish the City had

I still wish the City had kept their promise of no development on Riverwatch.

Junket103
452
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Junket103 02/05/14 - 08:18 pm
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Kudos To RC

This is very good news for Richmond County. Congrats to all who worked on it. Hopefully, the developer can pull in some unique shops that will add to the offerings in the CSRA and not pull from the existing mall. So much for Riverwatch being an expressway to Downtown from Columbia County. Traffic is going to really bottleneck from Comcast through I-20, but that's the price for progress. Now if we can get Gordon Hwy back on track.

countyman
20149
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countyman 02/05/14 - 08:37 pm
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Facts

''I agree with Countyman, RC has the necessary demographics for workers. Low-paying retail, part-time jobs, no high school diploma required.''

The total investment is $150 million and the future sales tax revenue is another benefit..

''Countyman, yes, if everybody moved to Aiken County and Columbia County, yes, the outlet mall would still come. They expect shoppers within a 75 mile radius to shop there.''

Read the last two paragraphs in the article.. The number of cars traveling along Riverwatch Pkwy, Washington road, and I-20 daily is much higher than any of the interchanges in AC/CC..

GnipGnop
12242
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GnipGnop 02/05/14 - 09:02 pm
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????

Read the last two paragraphs in the article.. The number of cars traveling along Riverwatch Pkwy, Washington road, and I-20 daily is much higher than any of the interchanges in AC/CC..???? That interchange is as close to CC/AC as you can get...your statement makes no sense

Gage Creed
17277
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Gage Creed 02/05/14 - 09:19 pm
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Just imagine.. a moonlight

Just imagine.. a moonlight canal boat cruise to the mythical kingdom of North Richmond... Bromance... Mystery... Drama. Shop the outlet mall while escorted by Shrek and Donkey, feast at Waffle House, view the massive rock quarry, experience the bone jarring railroad crossing(s) it's a destination!

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