Unauthorized plan for Macon shopping center posted on Facebook concerns developer

New Macon shopping center expected to open in 2019

This is the proposed site plan for the shopping center at 1625 Bass Road in north Bibb County, as presented to Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission in a March meeting and on the commission’s website.
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This is the proposed site plan for the shopping center at 1625 Bass Road in north Bibb County, as presented to Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission in a March meeting and on the commission’s website.

Earlier this week a conceptual site plan with the names of potential retail tenants for a possible shopping center in north Macon was posted on Facebook.

But it wasn’t released or authorized by the developer.

The location of the proposed development is on a triangle-shaped site bordered by Riverside Drive, Bass Road and New Forsyth Drive. A shopping center has been planned for this location since before the recession.

The image showed several building locations, including three with the names Costco, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Best Buy, as well as a building for a movie theater.

While the image was seen by several people and it was shared by some, the postings of the site plan were not authorized, according to the developer, The Bishop Co. of Atlanta, and the plan contained propriety information, so the company had the posts removed.

“I don’t appreciate that because it’s misinformation,” said Frank Bishop, president of The Bishop Co. “We have no signed deals with any of those tenants. It’s misinformation and it could jeopardize a tenant, because they could say, ‘We don’t like that, and we’re not going to put a store in Macon.’ ”

The Facebook Pages that published the conceptual site plan purport to be promoting growth and revitalization, but they don’t reveal who administers the page. The page often reposts stories from legitimate news sources and sometimes posts things heard about but without using sources for the information and apparently with unverified information.

Neither Bishop nor commercial real estate agent Jim Rollins know how the anonymous Facebook administrators obtained a copy of the site plan.

Bishop would not say if his company has even talked to the retailers listed on the site plan. Usually, everyone involved in trying to put a deal like this together, including the developer, architect, land planners, and real estate agents, have to sign a nondisclosure agreement that they won’t reveal any information about the deal until the tenants are ready to announce their plans.

“And no tenants are committed,” in this particular deal, said Rollins with The Summit Group based in Macon.

Quite often, when conceptual site plans are made, some retail names are put on the plan as place holders and used as part of marketing the site, to give an example of what could go on the property, Bishop said. “And if it were to all come together, here’s what it would look like,” he said.

And these site plans are constantly changing as the developer talks to a lot of different tenants.

“So, the site plans vary greatly,” Bishop said. “It’s not uncommon to do 150 to 200 conceptual site plans on a project. We might start out with one group of tenants and end up with another group of tenants.”

And businesses “are very sensitive” about releasing any information that they are even considering a particular site, he said.

“Any business wants to be user-friendly and they want their client-base and their customers to like them,” he said.

However, for example, if word got out that a retailer was considering moving to Macon, but for some reason it decided maybe it wasn’t the right time to open in this location, “they are put in a situation where they are going to have some disappointed customers or clients and they don’t want to disappoint their clients,” Bishop said.

“The short answer is those tenants don’t want those names listed, and they don’t want it out in the public until it’s done,” he said.

Bishop said he “believes” in the Macon market and likes the site.

“We think here’s a place we can bring in some quality tenants ... but these things don’t happen overnight,” he said. “Some of these tenants could go to (the Fickling & Co. site on Bass Road at Starcadia Circle that’s under construction), and the picture changes.”

Linda Morris, who has won several state and national journalism awards, covers business news for The Telegraph in Macon. Prior to beginning her journalism career, she worked with a commercial real estate developer, law firms, banks, a retailer and a wholesaler.