By this time next year, a new shopping center on Bass Road should be close to opening.
Marshall’s/Homegoods, Michaels, Beall’s Outlet, Old Navy, Five Below, Famous Footwear and Lifeway Christian Resources are planning to be part of the North Macon Plaza on Bass Road at Starcadia Circle, just off Interstate 75. The announcement was made Tuesday by joint venture partners, St. Petersburg, Florida-based The Sembler Co. and Atlanta-based Berkley Development.
“What I like about the mix of stores is it covers all spectrums of retail, (including) apparel, domestics, arts and crafts and home decor, said Michael Cohn, president of Berkley Development. “There is about 30,000-40,000 square feet of local shop space, which we expect to lease to restaurants users and health and wellness users to fully round out our mix.”
Work on the site is expected to begin immediately, Cohn said.
“We are hoping to open pre-holiday 2019,” he said.
Plans for the 166,465-square-foot shopping center were approved in March by the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission, although some extra square footage was built into the plan because tenants still were working on their locations and size, he said. It will be built on about 19 acres of a 27-acre site surrounded by Starcadia Circle.
Bass Pro Shops is to the north of the site, just across Bass Road, and The Shoppes at River Crossing sits just south of it on Riverside Drive. Plans include dense landscape buffers on the perimeter of the development similar to what’s used at River Crossing to screen the service areas of retailers.
While Cohn is aware some of the stores currently exist at the Eisenhower Crossing shopping center in south Macon, he does not know if those stores will remain open.
“We are in the new store business, and retailers don’t share with us their plans for existing stores, and we don’t control that,” he said.
The Telegraph reached out to Marshalls, Michaels and Old Navy, which have stores in Eisenhower Crossing, but only Marshalls replied, saying in an email that Marshalls/Home Goods “has not announced any store changes in that area.” Also, an attempt Tuesday afternoon to reach the owner of Eisenhower, DDR Corp., a real estate investment trust, was unsuccessful.
Fickling & Co., which owns the Bass Road land, has been attempting to develop this property for more than a decade.
“We were close to putting a shopping center together several times but were thwarted by the Great Recession, retailer closures and by the recent changes in retailing strategy brought on by the increasing prevalence of online shopping,” President Roy Fickling said in an email.
But those earlier developments might not have been as good for the community as the shopping center being built, he said.
“Due to the fact that ‘big box’ retailers have significantly downsized their store footprints, there will not be one giant retailer anchoring this center,” he said. “Instead, this center will have modest-sized store footprints that can easily be repurposed as the retailing environment inevitably changes through the years.”
The location of the planned shopping center is ideal for regional customers and those traveling through, Cohn said.
“I think the location by definition makes it regional on the interstate off ramp,” he said. “Because of where we are and nature of the mix, even if there is some duplication at Eisenhower, we (would attract shoppers) a little more regionally because we’ve got two regional destinations adjacent to us.”
The fact that Bass Pro Shops is nearby “was a comfort” for the retailers and developers, he said.
“We are excited to bring another quality project to Macon-Bibb. We are thrilled with our tenant line up,” he said. “We are thankful to Roy (Fickling) and the Fickling organization for being as patient with us as they have. We’ve had a couple of false starts along the way going back to the Great Recession. … We are thankful that Roy understands how critical another commercial center on Bass Road is to the overall market.”