On the Fast Track


exterior-museum-sideThe county is going to town with a trio of construction projects at The Plaza at Evans Towne Center.

Columbia County officials have long had a dream of creating a thriving downtown center in the heart of Evans. With three construction projects in various stages of completion underway at The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, a public-private venture between Columbia County and Meybohm Development Group, that vision is coming into focus.

lobby-1Construction on the county’s new performing arts center, which will anchor The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, got underway in early March. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete. 

At a groundbreaking ceremony in February, Ron Cross, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, called the project a dream come true that will “benefit Columbia County citizens for years to come.” 

The facility will include seating for about 2,100 people, a main floor, two balcony areas with box seats, a concessions area and an orchestra pit that has the capacity to be lowered below the floor to accommodate extra seating. 

theater-seats“We’re looking forward to the first Broadway play or musical we can have for the citizens,” Cross says.

The $31 million-plus project was approved by voters as part of the 2017 general obligation bond in the November 2016 general election. It is being financed by the GO bond and SPLOST monies remaining from completed projects.

“We’re excited that the county has started the performing arts center,” says Lionel Prather, senior vice president of commercial development for Meybohm Commercial Properties.

The other projects include the first phase of The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, a walkable multi-use area, and a raised sidewalk that will connect The Plaza with Evans Towne Center Park. The $1 million sidewalk project, which includes brick pavers, trees, plants and crosswalks, is being funded by the 2017 GO bond and TSPLOST funds. These projects are expected to be completed in late May. 

theater-stageThe first phase of The Plaza features a four-story, L-shaped building that will include the Meybohm headquarters; retail, professional and restaurant space; and a rooftop terrace that can accommodate 300 people for special events. The project also features greenspace, streetscape and sidewalks. Professional tenants are expected to include cyber and software companies, local businesses that are looking for a Columbia County presence and restaurant concepts that are new to the area. 

“We are in talks with two companies now that would take up almost all the professional space that Meybohm doesn’t occupy,” says Prather.

Your Pie, a fast-casual craft pizza and beer restaurant, is expected to open in the development this summer. Preliminary plans also are underway for the second building, which will be built behind the first building and face The Plaza. The square, three story building will house retail space on the first floor and professional space on the second and third floors. 

Upon completion, the entire 22-acre site will include six buildings covering 150,000 square feet. The development will offer 60,000 square feet of professional space and almost 75,000 square feet of office space. 

“We are completing the county’s vision of a downtown area,” Prather says. “It’s going to enhance the whole area.”