Originally created 02/18/99

Center gets new owners



A new partnership that includes a spin-off company of Windsor Jewelers and an Edgefield investor bought the National Hills Shopping Center on Wednesday for about $5.7 million.

The new owners plan to refurbish the shopping center and "bring it back to life," Windsor Management President Donald Thompson said. The 183,000-square-foot shopping center is in a high-traffic area with convenient access.

The partnership is made up of three groups: Windsor Management, a spin-off company of Windsor Jewelers; Wayne Raiford, an Edgefield real estate investor; and Boykin Management, a Mobile, Ala., real estate development company.

Meybohm Realtors will manage the shopping center.

The partners bought the shopping center from a group of Israeli investors, who, at one time, also owned Daniel Village Shopping Center off Wrightsboro Road.

Under the new partnership, Windsor Management will own 50 percent of the shopping center; Mr. Raiford will own 25 percent; and Boykin Management will own the other 25 percent.

National Hills Shopping Center, across from the Augusta National golf course at Berkman and Washington roads, includes the Dillard's department store, the former Michael's art and craft store and the Fresh Market grocery store.

"We were in National Hills for 20 years, and we realized that the location was, for retail, one of the best in the area," Mr. Thompson said. "It was the greatest shopping center. Hopefully, we can bring it back."

The new partners plan to attract some new tenants.

One of the first will be a golf equipment store, Mr. Thompson said.

Dillards, formerly JB White, has not indicated its plans to leave the center, Mr. Thompson said. JB White was one of the shopping center's original tenants when it was built in 1962.

Mr. Thompson said he became interested in buying the shopping center this summer when Dent Boykin of Boykin Management asked him if he was interested in being a partner.

"He was the one that got it started," Mr. Thompson said.

Billed as the "plushest and smartest" shopping center in the Augusta area when it was built, it originally cost $1 million. Plans called for it to include a supermarket, clothing store, restaurant, drug store, shoe store, laundry and barber shop.

Blanchard and Calhounwas the original developer.

Over the years, the shopping center changed hands several times.

The National Hills Shopping Center was renovated in 1994, when Michael's moved in. And in 1996, the three-screen National Hills Theater closed, and JB White opened a home furnishing store.

Frank Witsil can be reached at (706) 823-3352.