Local businessman to redevelop former Marshall Square property

The new owner of the former Marshall Square property in Evans says he plans to redevelop the more than 8-acre tract in a manner consistent with its surroundings, which is rapidly becoming Columbia County’s “downtown.”


Mike Montarbo, co-owner and general manager of Evans Fitness Club, acquired the property earlier this month from the Marshall Square retirement community’s Nebraska-based owner for $2.8 million, according to property records filed with the county May 16.

Montarbo said Thursday he was not ready to disclose specific plans for the property, which is located less than 1,000 feet from his fitness club he co-developed five years ago off Evans Town Center Boulevard with his wife Lisa and their partners Bill and Traci Smith.

“We will make a formal announcement when the time is right,” said Montarbo, who purchased the 8.6-acre tract through Georgia MFM Properties, a Montarbo family-owned limited liability company.

He said the redevelopment plans would mesh with the county’s “vision” laid out in the pedestrian-friendly Evans Towne Center land-use concept.

“We don’t have renderings or anything to show yet,” said Montarbo, adding that he will share his concept for the property “as soon as something is concrete.”

The land, at the corner of Ronald Reagan Drive and North Belair Road, abuts the 26-acre The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, a public-private development between the county and Meybohm Realtors that will include more than 300,000-square-feet of mixed-use space and be anchored by the county’s 2,000-seat performing arts center.

Montarbo already has cleared sections of the property that weren’t destroyed in the 2015 Marshall Square fire, which leveled most of the three-story, 188,000-square-foot upscale retirement community, causing numerous injuries and one fatality.

The former community’s developer and owner, Nebraska-based Resort Lifestyle Communities, has previously said it intended to rebuild the $27 million facility. A phone message left with the company’s spokesman, Chief Operating Officer Steve Mueller, was not returned Thursday.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.