“It improves the quality of life for our residents when we have retail and services in our community,” Strickland says. “It supports our traffic infrastructure when folks don’t have to drive too far to get services.”
The first phase of construction is underway at The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, which is designed to be a walkable, multi-use downtown area in the heart of Columbia County. The first phase of the project, a public-private venture between the county and Meybohm Development Group, includes the Meybohm building, greenspace, streetscape and sidewalks. In addition to housing Meybohm headquarters, the four-story building will include restaurant, retail and professional space as well as a rooftop terrace. According to Strickland, the goal is to complete the first phase before Masters Week 2018.
Upon completion of the entire project, the 22-acre site will include about 60,000 square feet of professional space and almost 75,000 square feet of retail space.
More retail options are heading to Columbia County as well. Belk is expected to open in Mullins Crossing II this month, and Madison’s Closet is coming to Riverwood Town Center. Retail and professional space also is under construction at the corner of Halali Farm and Washington roads.
Southeastern, an Augusta-based real estate and commercial brokerage firm that serves seven states throughout the Southeast, held a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new office in Evans in June. A new Anytime Fitness location opened in September in the Riverwood area, and Christian Brothers Automotive has a new location on Washington Road next to Sherwin-Williams.
Some local businesses with familiar names have moved to new locations. Mish Mash relocated from Washington Road to Grand Slam Drive in Evans in August, and Studio 285 hair salon and Tiffinie Bleu Bridal Boutique have moved from Grand Slam Drive to the nearby Carraway Crossing. Maras, a new clothing boutique, was slated to open in Carraway Crossing this fall.
Residents who want to pamper their pets can take their dogs and cats to the new Boarding and Grooming at Ivy Falls or Garden City Pet, a pet supply store in the Centre at Furys Ferry in Martinez. People who want to pamper themselves can visit The Blush & Glow Studio, a new airbrush and sunless tanning service business, which also is in the Centre at Furys Ferry.
In Grovetown a new Family Dollar store has opened in the Shops at Summerfield on Robinson Avenue, and an Ace Hardware opened on Wrightsboro Road in late 2016. A new self-storage facility, also on Robinson Avenue, should open by the end of the year.
The way that the city conducts business for its residents is changing as well. In August the city of Grovetown broke ground on its new $23 million wastewater treatment plant – the second phase of the four-phase project. Currently, Waller says, “We send two-thirds of our wastewater to Columbia and Richmond counties to be treated.”
The first phase – the construction of the headworks facility – started in May. The third and fourth phases, which include the sewer system, piping and forced main, should get underway in mid- to late 2018. “In the spring of 2019, the plant will be fully operational,” says Waller.
Renovations to Grovetown’s Department of Public Safety on East Robinson Avenue also were completed in August. The project included four new bays for the fire department next door. “All of our police officers are in station 1 now. It is a combination police department and fire station,” Waller says. “In the past our police officers were at station 1 and at the public safety annex.”
Court and probation services remain at the annex two blocks away on Robinson Avenue. “We’re thinking of other uses we can come up with for the annex,” says Waller.
Waller also is involved with the CSRA Regional Commission’s land use survey for Fort Gordon. “The intent is to make sure the operations of the post don’t have an adverse effect on neighboring communities and the operations of neighboring communities don’t have an adverse effect on the post,” he says. “We have to balance the needs of the post with the needs of the community.”
To keep community operations from interfering with Fort Gordon activities, says Waller, the commission could recommend that neighboring municipalities adopt new ordinances pertaining to issues such as noise, lights and cell tower locations.
“Fort Gordon is a big draw to Grovetown right now,” Waller says. “It is bringing soldiers, contractors and their families to the area. People want to live close to the post, so we can expect continued residential growth.”
The closure of Gate 2 to Fort Gordon (which still could be used for special events) across from Robinson Avenue and installation of a new gate at the intersection of Parham Road and Gordon Highway in 2019 is expected to move traffic further west. “There will be less traffic on Robinson Avenue, but Harlem probably will see an increase in traffic,” says Waller.