Costco to be anchor, says developer

An Internet marketing brochure from the developer of the Village at Riverwatch shopping center says Costco has joined Belk as one of its anchor stores.

The 860,000-square-foot development should open on River Watch Parkway near Interstate 20 in the spring or summer of 2009, according to the information from developer MGHerring Group, based in Dallas.

Company spokesman Andy Stern said Costco is on board and the marketing material accurately reflects the current project.

Costco officials would not confirm that they're coming to Augusta, citing a policy that they do not comment on its plans for specific markets "due to the competitive nature of our business."

Costco announces new store openings as part of its quarterly report to investors. That list, however, extends only to December. One of its newest stores is in Greenville, S.C., which opened in August.

Costco, based in Issaquah, Wash., operates 523 warehouse-style stores worldwide, 388 of them in the United States. The closest Costco locations to Augusta are in metro Atlanta.

MGHerring lists Costco as opening a 150,000 -square -foot store, joining the 120,000 -square -foot Belk and an unsigned third anchor store.

Belk announced in 2005 that it would eventually close its smaller North Augusta store and move across the river to Richmond County.

Village at Riverwatch was first announced in the summer of 2005 as a 132-acre, $150 million shopping center anchored by Belk and Dillard's.

A Dillard's store is no longer mentioned in the project plans.

According to MGHerring's project information, the developer is seeking a third tenant, possibly a fashion retailer, in addition to two hotels, for the Village at Riverwatch.

An 18-screen, 56,000 -square -foot Starplex Cinema will be part of the development.

There will be space available for other retailers and restaurants.

MGHerring paid $6.4 million for the land in 2006.

The format is similar to another MGHerring development, Village at Allen, in a Dallas suburb, which has hotels, restaurants, office space and large-scale fashion retailers. That project should open a year from now.

Executives for MGHerring were in New York City for a meeting of the International Council of Shopping Centers and could not be reached Thursday and Friday for additional information.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

ON THE WEB

www.villageatriverwatch.com

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