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South Point's unseen progress

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Most passers-by may see little vertical construction taking place on the clay-covered property, located at Exit 218 along Interstate-75 in McDonough.

But progress is being made there, according to developer Jim Baker, CEO of Baker & Lassiter Inc.

Baker, also the managing partner of the multi-million-dollar South Point Retail Partners development, said the now unseen progress of what will be a regional shopping center for south metro Atlanta, will be clear by next spring.

"You're probably going to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 additional [jobs]," he said of new retailers who have signed on to the South Point development in McDonough.

In addition to its planned restaurants, offices, and possible multi-purpose arena, the development will include about 600,000 square feet of retail space.

That is, South Point has added several retailers to its list of tenants. Coming in the summer 2009 are a Rooms to Go store; a Toys 'R' Us / Babies 'R' Us store; a Hobby Lobby, and a Haverty's furniture store. Construction on the retail stores is scheduled to begin in January of 2009.

"The theme will be a very traditional theme of a marketplace type," Baker said.

Already open at the shopping center are anchor department stores, JC Penney and Kohl's. Developers are currently constructing a full-service, four-story, 110-room Hilton Hotel on the east end of the site.

The South Point mall developer said he is working with major retailers, which could offer in excess of 100,000 square feet of additional retail for the South Point project.

"What they're looking at is the growth in Henry County," he said. "And despite the slow-down in Henry County, it's still going to double in the next 20-30 years."

Baker credits the development's location at the center of Henry County and on two major thoroughfares as big draws for potential retailers.

"South Point has leased nearly 300,000 square feet in the last four months," he said. "In spite of the economy, South Point has performed very well. That $15 million (Bruton-Smith) Parkway that sits in front of us is a major influence. That is absolutely one of the greatest assets that Henry County has. The growth and the future growth in Henry County is south of South Point."

There are few other major shopping options south of Atlanta. "It's[the area's] been under-served by retail products thus far." Baker added. "I think SouthPoint is going to become the regional shopping center for this county."