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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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GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 02/05/14 - 09:25 pm
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You forgot something Gage

a stop off at the taxpayer funded Jazz Cafe

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 02/05/14 - 09:41 pm
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GnipGnop... you are so right.

GnipGnop... you are so right. I might need to incubate my business!

Augz79
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Augz79 02/05/14 - 09:50 pm
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I.M. Pei? No, U.R. Pay

A wrecking ball needs to be incubated into the side of that eyesore...

corgimom
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corgimom 02/05/14 - 09:50 pm
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Gnip-..."your statement makes

Gnip-..."your statement makes no sense"

WORD.

badmoon426
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badmoon426 02/05/14 - 10:03 pm
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So The Business Incubator...

...is code for the coffee shop jazz cafe. So when did the taxpayers start funding a business that will be in competition with other similar downtown business?

So 3 million in fluff to have the county competing in the private sector. Doesn't this sound totally socialistic

badmoon426
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badmoon426 02/05/14 - 10:06 pm
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It Sounds Great but...

..."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".

So according to the developer they want a guaranteed occupancy of at least 50%. Sounds like it is nice but it is no cigar yet.

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 02/05/14 - 10:43 pm
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@badmoon... that's how

@badmoon... that's how business is done in the mythical kingdom of North Richmond, there is no passage without the expected tribute...

Beware the the evil troll that lives under the canal bridge! His HD is fractured and he appears mortally wounded.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 02/05/14 - 10:28 pm
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4
I used to write for The Onion

People!! Don't you realize that when I "advise" people to to move to CC or Aiken on here that IT IS A JOKE??? Polish up your senses of humor, if any, and learn about sarcasm and irony please....
(And, no, I didn't really write for The Onion).

countyman
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countyman 02/05/14 - 10:34 pm
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All of the negative remarks

All of the negative remarks are coming from the usual suspects.. My previous comment made plenty of sense.

What corridor has the most daily traffic?

Riverwatch Pkwy, Washington rd, and I-20 in Richmond County
I-20, Lewinston rd, and Columbia rd in Columbia County
I-20, Palmetto Pkwy, and Edgefield rd in Aiken County

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 02/05/14 - 10:42 pm
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DONKEY! I vote for Canalwatch

DONKEY! I vote for Canalwatch Parkway!

Augz79
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Augz79 02/05/14 - 10:53 pm
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County, lighten up.

County, lighten up. I don't see the point in a p*ssing contest between area counties.

In other news, will you be manning the canal boats ferrying shoppers from the CBD to North Richmond? You could even give out business news en route. Till Neil Gordon found out, then countyman-no-more... more like sunk-in-the-canalman.

JRC2024
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JRC2024 02/05/14 - 11:14 pm
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Naysayers go away, The

Naysayers go away, The development is good for Richmond County and Columbia County. Remember all the people moving in with NSA will add to all those that shop. I have lived in both counties and really do not see any difference in the way I live. The politics is different and the makeup of the citizens is different but that does not cause me any problems. I like it here.

KSL
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KSL 02/06/14 - 02:06 am
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At what hourly wage will most

At what hourly wage will most of those people be employed? Corgi has a bunch of highly trained unemployed people in Charlotte who could move here and buy houses.

Bring something here that will employ people who pay income tax and property taxes.

KSL
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KSL 02/06/14 - 03:50 am
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Don't get me wrong. Anyone

Don't get me wrong. Anyone going to work is great.

But I need a job for a machinist who may be moving here. He is a vet. I am pretty certain he does not want to wotk at an outlet mall.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 02/06/14 - 07:24 am
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B Carter

He will do a great job for Augusta...he has in Gwinnett.

Bring on the stores...

seenitB4
124419
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seenitB4 02/06/14 - 07:29 am
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Canal ride to shop??

Maybe someone thinks this is Venice....nahhh...fergittabotit...

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 02/06/14 - 07:49 am
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Remember... we could always

Remember... we could always flood Ellis St.! The CBD could be annexed into the mythical kingdom of North Richmond. Just think of it; Shrek, Donkey and a cast of mythical creatures freely roaming Broad Street. Well, I guess that part is not all that far-fetched.

TrukinRanger
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TrukinRanger 02/06/14 - 07:51 am
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cool.. an outlet mall with
Unpublished

cool.. an outlet mall with title pawn, regular pawn shops, gold buyers, weave shop

Riverman1
118045
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Riverman1 02/06/14 - 08:03 am
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Gage, I bet Deke would wear a costume

Gage, I bet Deke would wear one of the costumes, especially if it is made out of Speedo material, and play a character in the mythical kingdom. He could jump out of the jazz café on the half hour and say boo.

corgimom
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corgimom 02/06/14 - 08:13 am
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Hey, we have our own outlet

Hey, we have our own outlet mall being built, they don't have to go to Augusta to work a part-time, low-wage job.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 02/06/14 - 08:45 am
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dixieman says

"People!! Don't you realize that when I "advise" people to to move to CC or Aiken on here that IT IS A JOKE??? Polish up your senses of humor"

You are asking for a lot my dear sir.....I understand that you have to have a deep understanding of humor to enjoy it...& also a little intelligence to digest it..:)

itsanotherday1
56622
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itsanotherday1 02/06/14 - 08:50 am
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Mall clientele

If this is the typical outlet mall, the Augusta Mall riff raff won't be a problem. They roam around inside, out of the weather, and with places to gang up in groups. That is hard to do in strip type malls.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 02/06/14 - 09:32 am
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Ben Carter--very interesting man

They say he has the golden touch...read about him.

Carter may have been a gambler, but he knew how to win. This was probably the most important point. Even if he had an early advantage because of his father’s connections, Ben Carter had already made his own mark around the Southeast. He had built successful malls in Columbus (Columbus Park Crossing) and Jacksonville (St. Johns Town Center). After Frank Carter died in 1991, Ben left Frank’s old company—where the partners were less adventurous than he wanted to be—to start his own firm and draw the blueprints for the largest mall in Georgia. He studied a map of the metro area, calculating projected population growth and the distances between existing malls, and settled on a remote spot in northern Gwinnett County, thirty-four miles from Downtown Atlanta. It seemed crazy. Only 125,000 people lived within ten miles of the site, half of what the standard formulas usually require. Carter moved forward. He envisioned a complex that combined a shopping mall, a town square, and a public park. He joined forces with D. Scott Hudgens, a veteran mall developer who had been one of his father’s main competitors. They broke ground on the 496-acre site on August 13, 1997, pledging to open exactly two years later. To impress potential tenants at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas, Carter brought in the Atlanta Rhythm Section to play an exclusive party in the Hard Rock Hotel. At the same convention the next year, he brought in the Temptations. Leases were signed. Newcomers flooded northern Gwinnett. On the morning of August 13, 1999, Carter celebrated the Mall of Georgia’s grand opening with the release of 4,000 monarch butterflies into the on-site nature park. Experts said he had redefined the shopping mall. Georgia Trend magazine named him Georgian of the Year. Money filled the registers.
- See more at: http://www.atlantamagazine.com/may2010/streetsofbuckhead.aspx#sthash.uRL...

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I can see Augusta getting some of the famous restaurants that we have here.

countyman
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countyman 02/06/14 - 10:30 am
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Reality

The comments from the naysayers explain the recent history of Augusta.. The media loves to blame the outsiders like Dr. Azziz, but the main problem is the native local population..

The naysayers didn't have anything to say when Columbia County first made the Bass Pro announcement, or about the Sams/Fresh Market coming to Aiken..

I'm glad the local community is moving forward, because the negative nancies will jump on the bandwagon sooner or later..

Expect to hear many future announcements in 2014..

GnipGnop
13612
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GnipGnop 02/06/14 - 10:54 am
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Sorry county

but the locals have a monetary investment here...they see the lies they are told to pass things like SPLOST and the TEE center and the trash tax, Maybe as a renter you don't understand. Or maybe as a transplant you don't get it. Years and years of lies while the same people like Deke and his ilk line their pockets with the money of hardworking everyday people...

Little Lamb
55565
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Little Lamb 02/06/14 - 11:15 am
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1,500

I was questioning the hype about 1,500 jobs in a retail strip mall. But then Corgimom put it into perspective. The employees will be part-time workers so the employers will not have to provide health insurance. That explains it.

The jobs will be low-wage. Therefore, if the employees purchase private health insurance their premiums will be subsidized by taxpayers. Ain't Affordable Care great!

countyman
23402
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countyman 02/06/14 - 11:50 am
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Double standard

The majority of the taxpayers living in RC approved the TEE center..

Why don't you ever mention the exhibition hall or project Jackson? The AC/CC governments didn't even allow the residents the chance to vote..

GnipGnop
13612
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GnipGnop 02/06/14 - 12:08 pm
5
2
Hasn't raised my property taxes

3x what they were...when it does I will be at the top of the complainers list. Quit with the voters passed the TEE center lie. They didn't pass what they got and they certainly had no idea they would be funding top of the line air handlers and a new kitchen and parking deck for billy and paul. Just because you continue to tell that half truth doesn't make it true. And BTW my house in NA is worth 3 times as much as my house in South Augusta and I pay city and county taxes in NA and it's still lower than my ARC property taxes...

Little Lamb
55565
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Little Lamb 02/06/14 - 12:33 pm
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1
Not Quite

Countyman posted:

The majority of the taxpayers living in RC approved the TEE center.

Actually, that statement is not correct. It was a majority of those voting in the SPLOST referendum who approved the TEE Center. Many of them are not taxpayers. And the TEE Center was only one of things in a whole laundry list that was on the ballot. Also, the TEE Center that was built cost way more than what was proposed on the list. It was a classic bait and switch.

Lesson: Vote NO! on the upcoming SPLOST referendum.

burninater
11581
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burninater 02/06/14 - 01:16 pm
3
1
1500/30 stores = 50

1500/30 stores = 50 jobs/store?

Not likely.

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