Originally created 01/08/97

Project creates excitement



The graded site that spans part of Wheeler Road and Walton Way Extension by Interstate 20 is drawing attention and fostering excitement.

Although the Augusta Exchange shopping center won't have the original planned spring 1997 opening, the site will have a 122,000-square-foot Target and other big-box stores.

The first phase of the two-phase, 800,000-square-foot center on 80 acres is expected to open in October, Tom Abernathy of Atlanta, a partner in the Augusta Exchange L.L.C. development company, said on Tuesday.

The first phase will be about 400,000 square feet, he said. Work has not begun on the second phase.

For comparison, Augusta Mall is more than 900,000 square feet.

Mr. Abernathy declined to name other stores that will be in the center because the companies were not ready to announce their intentions. But he described planned big stores: a major sporting goods superstore that will be more than 40,000 square feet, a major electronics store, a home interior store, an arts and crafts superstore that will be more than 25,000 square feet and a pet supply superstore that also will be more than 25,000 square feet.

The pet supply super stores "have become very popular nationwide, where you can actually take your animal in the store and peruse around," Mr. Abernathy said.

Also planned is "a clothing store that will appeal to the younger generation" and shoppers who are interested in clothing brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, Mr. Abernathy said.

"And we hope to announce a major grocery store in the project," he said. "But we can't do that now. That will be forthcoming."

Food in another form is expected to be there, too.

"We hope to bring in new restaurant concepts to the Augusta market," Mr. Abernathy said.

The project has the developers working with anticipation.

"We're real excited about it," the developer said. "We think it will be a great addition to the Richmond County area."