By Joel Hall
Construction is on schedule for the City of Morrow's Olde Town Morrow, and the Morrow Conference Center, city officials report.
During an "update" meeting on Thursday, officials said the city has eight letters of intent from businesses planning to open at Olde Town Morrow this Thanksgiving, and the conference center is expected to be completed by Oct. 31.
Morrow Main Street Coordinator Jessica Kilby said eight tenants, out of a possible 24, have made plans to operate at Olde Town Morrow. She said within the last month, the construction project has made significant progress, attracting two restaurants and several small, specialty shops.
"Until a few weeks ago, we didn't have [architectural] drawings of them [the tenant spaces]," said Kilby. "We were basically trying to sell them without the visual ... Now we do have the visual. I think we've really made progress."
Businesses already planning to open by Thanksgiving include: Incredible Southern Poundcakes, a Stockbridge-based bakery specializing in hoop-skirt-shaped pound cakes; City Harbor, a seafood restaurant; Maguire's Family and Friends, a traditional Irish pub based out of Senoia; Designs by Delores, a boutique specializing in handmade jewelry with high-quality beads, specialty T-shirts, and minor accessories; The Duchess Closet, an upscale women's boutique; Round and Round We Grow, a boutique specializing in children's clothing items; Christi Trees, a shop specializing in tree decorations and personalized ornaments; and Olde Town Quilts, an offshoot of Quilts and Fixins of Jonesboro, specializing in quilts, quilt supplies, and quilted accessories.
Kilby said, while the maximum number of tenants is 24, the city plans to bring in private developers to attract dozens of new businesses along the "Olde Town" facade.
"We have a total of 16 acres," she said. "What is actually out there is only 10 percent of what could be there."
According to City Manager John Lampl, the Morrow Conference Center is expected to be operational when Olde Town Morrow opens for business. Once finished, the 28,000-square-foot conference center will be able to provide events and dinning spaces for groups of up to 400 people.
"It's on time in terms of its construction guidelines," Lampl said. "All of the architecturals are finished, [and] the plans are being utilized to build the project. There are two-and-a-half months of construction that remain ... It will go quickly."
Olde Town Morrow sits off Southlake Circle near Southlake Mall, and the Morrow Conference Center is attached to Southlake Mall, in the former Macy's building. Lampl believes the projects will bring added value to the mall area.
"It gives us an opportunity for the business community and local community to have events and professional development programs, that we would otherwise not have," he said. "I think it all increases value for Southlake Mall as a regional center for business."
Jeanne Lowery, owner of Quilts and Fixins in Jonesboro, said she is excited about the exposure Olde Town Morrow will bring to small businesses in the area.
"It's going to give me a little business right off [Interstate] 75 with a lot of exposure," she said. "I don't think you can find a better location anywhere. For a small business like ours, that's amazing. It sounds so exciting, and I think it will be so welcomed in this area."