New restaurants, retail joining Publix in south Bibb County

lmorris@macon.comMay 11, 2012 

The new Publix grocery store planned off Hartley Bridge Road in south Bibb County will be joined by several other retailers and restaurants.

Other tenants already committed to go in the Hartley Station shopping center include Shane’s Rib Shack, Milan Cafe, El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant, Hartley Package, Nail Talk and Cuts by Us, said Robby Boggs, development manager with The Soran Group in Atlanta.

The $10 million shopping center financed by Wells Fargo is the first phase of Hartley Station -- a 1,200-acre planned mixed-use development -- at the intersection of Interstate 75 and Hartley Bridge Road, Boggs said.

Construction is expected to begin in August with a planned opening in the summer of 2013.

“You’ll start seeing vertical construction -- steel and that sort of thing -- in September,” he said.

While some of the retailers going in the center have other locations in Middle Georgia, Milan Cafe is new to the area, Boggs said. The owner is a restaurateur from Griffin.

“This is a new name and a new concept,” he said. “It will be a full-blown Italian restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining.”

Typically, Publix employs about 75-100 people at its stores, and the entire shopping center should have about 150-200 workers, he said.

Last month, the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved an application to renew a 2008 plan for the shopping center on about 8 acres at 4655 Hartley Bridge Road.

The plan features the 69,400-square-foot shopping center with Publix as the anchor.

Six years ago an impressive plan was approved for the entire development, including more than 1,700 residential units and about 700,000 square feet of space for commercial, office space and institutional uses.

Then, the economy -- especially real estate development -- went completely sour.

But now things have eased up a bit and it seemed the right time to make a move, Boggs said.

“The market is improving and interest rates are still attractive,” he said.

In addition to the Publix and the other committed retailers, the center has about 8,400 square feet of space still available.

The Sofran Group also developed Eisenhower Crossing on Eisenhower Parkway, which has more than 1 million square feet of retail space.

“Our experience and success with Eisenhower Crossing is what motivated Moon Family (Properties) to approach us to do Hartley Station with them,” Boggs said.

Moon Family Properties owns the large parcel and sold the 8-acre site to Sofran.

Mike Moon, managing partner of Hartley Properties LLC, said he has worked in the past with several multi-family development companies who “were very, very interested” in building an apartment complex on the site.

“I expect them to come back now that Publix has made an official announcement,” Moon said. “It’s a reality now instead of just talking about it.”

The retail/commercial part of the development will drive the residential part, he said.

“That should come later, but I wouldn’t think it would be much later,” he said. “We already have the infrastructure for one subdivision. We had to stop (because of the economy). We are also planning to do some townhouses at some point. That would happen along even further.”

“I think you will see a major difference by this time next year in that area,” Moon said. “I think it will be good, not just for that area, but for Bibb County and Macon.”

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