Large shopping center, movie theater proposed for north Bibb County

A new movie theater and shops could be coming to north Bibb County.

A large shopping center and movie theater may be developed on a 42-acre site. The proposed project, called Riverside Centre, would be built at 1771 Bass Road and New Forsyth Road -- one mile from The Shoppes at River Crossing.

A Development of Regional Impact form has been filed with the Middle Georgia Regional Commission for the proposed project. Regional impact studies are done on large-scale developments likely to have regional effects beyond the local government jurisdiction in which they are located, according to the state Department of Community Affairs website.

Riverside Centre will be a “shopper-friendly” retail development consisting of about 415,500 square feet of stores and restaurants ranging from 1,200 square feet to 30,000 square feet, the DRI form stated. The proposed project includes an additional 55,000-square-foot movie theater.

The property was cleared of trees before the recession in anticipation of a retail development, but it has remained vacant.

This would be the largest shopping center developed in Bibb County since River Crossing, which opened in 2008. It has about 725,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Local officials, in Atlanta for a conference Thursday, learned of the development plan from The Telegraph.

Mayor Robert Reichert said he was impressed by the announced size of the project.

Mike Dyer, president and CEO of the Macon Economic Development Commission and the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, said his organizations did not recruit the shopping center developer because commercial investment usually arrives without inducement.

The Bishop Co. in Atlanta is listed as the developer on the DRI form.

Attempts to reach CEO James C. Jones III were unsuccessful Thursday.

The company is now developing a 450,000-square-foot shopping center in Athens called Epps Bridge Centre. Some of the stores in that center include Best Buy, Pier 1 Imports, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Party City, Cheddars and Bone Island Grillhouse. It also includes a 60,000-square-foot movie theater with 16 screens owned by Georgia Theatre Co., which owns movie theaters in Warner Robins and Centerville.

The Bibb County property where the shopping center would be built was bought in 2007 by The Jones Co., a privately held company based in Waycross.

Messages left at The Jones Co. on Thursday were not returned.

The Jones Co. operates more than 170 Flash Foods convenience stores in Georgia and north Florida, according to its website. Two of the company’s subsidiaries supply fuel and groceries to its stations and another one operates restaurants.

Telegraph writer Maggie Lee contributed to this report.