Photo by Johnny Jackson
Richard Lester and Jim Baker (right), managing partners with South Point Retail Partners, survey the progress of construction on an Academy Sports + Outdoors store, scheduled to open in March at the South Point shopping and entertainment center in McDonough.
By Johnny Jackson
The slab is set for construction of the latest addition to the South Point retail and entertainment center in McDonough, according developer, Jim Baker.
Baker said the new Academy Sports + Outdoors store will be one of only a handful of stores constructed by the Katy, Texas-based retailer in Georgia.
Baker, the president of the Atlanta-based Chaseland Corporation and Baker & Lassiter, Inc., is a managing partner of the real estate and retail partnership, known as South Point Retail Partners. The partnership also includes Richard Lester, John Dinos, and Ralph Conti.
South Point Retail Partners, according to Baker, is making progress in a long-term development project to provide the Henry County-area with a residential, shopping, entertainment and office center.
Baker said the partnership's latest retail tenant will open in March, as a new 72,000-square-foot Academy Sports + Outdoors store.
"We're very pleased that Academy Sports is moving ahead with the store in Henry County at South Point, and we feel that this is a positive sign that the retail community is beginning to feel confident in the economic recovery," said Bob White, executive director of the Henry County Development Authority.
"South Point was beginning to emerge as a strong commercial center with Kohl's and JCPenney as anchors, and with the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn," White said.
"And then, the economy stalled. But the opening of the Hobby Lobby last November, and the groundbreaking for the Academy Sports store, speak volumes about the attractiveness of the South Point area and Henry County, and we think other retailers will be following suit."
South Point currently has two anchor retailers: JCPenney and Kohl's department stores opened in the fall of 2008, added Baker. Hobby Lobby and the Hilton Garden Inn were added to the development in 2009. An AT&T store opened this month at the 125-acre South Point site, at the intersection of Ga. Highway 20 and Ga. Hwy. 81, near exit 218, along Interstate 75, in McDonough.
Baker said the partnership's goal is to develop a retail and entertainment center in South Metro Atlanta that is similar to centers found in the North Atlanta area.
"We want South Point to be a quality development," said Baker. "In the next 12-24 months, we'll spawn other developments around South Point that will increase the quality of the area."
The Hapeville native said that he purchased his first parcel at South Point, about 20 acres of land, back in 1989, when the main thoroughfare from downtown McDonough to the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton was a two-lane road hugged by pastures and woods on either side.
That route, Baker said, has grown into a corridor of commerce near the interstate, and that parcel of land has grown to include some 300,000 square feet of retail space, so far.
The real estate developer said about 35,000 square feet of retail space has already been purchased for a future Rooms To Go store. About 130,000 square feet is planned for development in 2011, with 60,000 square feet devoted to a Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us hybrid store early next year.
The new businesses represent a potential increase in the quality of life for Henry County, according to Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, chairman of the Henry County Board of Commissioners.
Mathis said she believes new businesses created directly, or indirectly, by the South Point development will provide residents with jobs, convenient shopping and entertainment options, and sales tax revenues to aid in providing infrastructure needs.
"We've worked extensively on an overlay for this corridor," she said. "The City of McDonough has done a great job at putting in design features that make this a great attraction. [And] the fact that this business is coming to Henry County at this time is encouraging."