Retail development planned for Highway 61

retail developmentHuge new shopping development planned for Villa Rica: Kroger not part of the plans

Recently the rumors about Kroger opening a store in Villa Rica began to swirl once again, especially on social media. Villa Rica News & Views contacted Kroger’s Atlanta headquarters, as well as Roy Martin from Sofran Partners, the company that is overseeing the development of the land. Both confirmed that Kroger has no plans for a Villa Rica location at this time.Roy was kind enough to talk with us for about 25 minutes and give us a ton of information about the new development, which at one time did include Kroger. Here’s a transcript from the interview.

At the end of the conversation, he told Tim, "You now officially know more than anybody else about this development."

By reading this, you will have all of the facts that are available at this time. Roy has told us that he will keep us up to date, and as soon as we have any new information, we will pass it on to our readers. This is definitely going to be a huge plus for the community.

Interview with Roy Martin of Sofran Partners 

Tim: We had been hearing rumors about the Kroger coming, so on Monday I called the Kroger office and they confirmed it was not on the schedule. We posted that to our Villa Rica News & Views Facebook. And then, people started posting a PDF that was on the Sofran website about the proposed project which showed a Kroger on there.

Roy: I am glad you called me. That’s been on the web page for several years now. The information is now out of date.  I will arrange to have it removed as soon as possible.  Originally Kroger was leading this project and very interested. We were going to do the retail with them - that has halted and there is no time frame on it. Sofran Partners are in the process of building a new site plan, so I have no information that I can send out at this point. But I need to get the old PDF taken down immediately!

Tim: The post we made on Facebook reached 16,000 people - everyone really wants the Kroger. Where are you now with the shopping center? Are you trying to get tenants? Are you in that stage yet?

Roy: Yes, we are dealing behind the scenes with a variety of anchors.

Tim: Gotcha.

Roy: Once I get the anchors on board, then I will actually have a site plan with labels on it - and will start marketing it to small shop tenants.

Tim: Yeah, that makes sense. You do need the anchors and that’s not going to be a small business in Villa Rica. It will be a major chain, and that’s what will attract the local businesses that want to open a retail store in that center.

Roy: That’s right. We have to make the big square footage deals first, then fill in the gaps with the smaller shops. That will be the last piece of the puzzle. The small shops and out lots are beating my door down.

Tim: I’m sure. In my opinion, that is the best possible location in Villa Rica. It’s an awesome spot.

Roy: From a site or location standpoint - but not from a development standpoint.

Tim: Yeah, there’s a lot of dirt being moved in. Once you get that site filled in that will help.

Roy: Well, it will not be all filled in - it won’t be filled in all the way to road grade. It will below road grade, so your drivers are going to go down a hill into the development. The good part about that is there will be excellent visibility from everywhere.

Tim: That’s going to be so good!

Tim: Is an Ingles Superstore a potential anchor?

Roy: No, think bigger.

Tim: Haha. Well, maybe Kroger will still come in. I would love for them to - and I grew up in Cincinnati, so I’m a big Kroger fan any way. The closest Kroger is in Douglasville, Carrollton or Ridge Road. From my house, it’s 20 minutes to drive, so we never go to Kroger. But if there was one here, it would do so well. Especially, if it was one like the superstore in Carrollton. It would compete with Wal-Mart and would do well.

Roy: Your observation is pretty key to this development. It’s 16 miles south to Carrollton. and 14 miles east to Douglasville. That puts it right in the middle. You already have built in synergy with the Wal-Mart and Home Depot. And you have traffic counts of over 30,000 cars.

Tim: On top of that, people from Temple could be there in 10 minutes if that was a Kroger.

Roy: The site is ready to go now - we can do other things now. Perhaps, Kroger will come in later.

Tim: Yeah, that’s true. If you could get in other anchors. How many anchors do you think you will have at that site?

Roy: Probably, two to three Junior Anchors in excess of 15,000 square feet. Plus there’s plenty of room for the secondary anchors, which are 6,000 -7,000 square feet. Then, you’d have the small shop category that will be in the 1,400 square foot range.

Tim: If you have 2-3 Junior Anchors would that be enough to start building?

Roy: Sure. I am already dealing with about five of them right now.

Roy: From your standpoint (as a magazine) there is really nothing to announce at this point, other than this. DOT is moving dirt in. And everyone needs to know Kroger has no plans for this site right now. That doesn’t mean they will not come back in the future.

Tim: Do you have a name for the shopping center?

Roy: It is not even named yet.

Tim: It would be cool if you took a community poll to name the shopping center.

Roy: Typically, we use the historical family name that owned the property. That’s what we have done in the past, like Montgomery Plaza in Milledgeville. Another way we do it is use a historic area name. There’s an area in Cumming, called “Drew”. We named the shopping center there Drew Corners.

Tim: Villa Rica is known for gold. The first historic Gold Rush was here, even before California. It’s known as the “City of Gold”. It would be good to use something with that.

Roy: Yeah, or something with Hickory Level. We also name developments after geographic boundaries. Hickory Level has historic significance to the area.

Tim: How many entrances will there be? Is that set in stone?

Roy: It’s not set in stone, because DOT wants to limit all access. They don’t want any cuts on Highway 61. This thing has a long way to go. There are a million things that have to happen.

Tim: When will the shopping center be complete?

Roy: The goal is to be finished by late 2018 or early 2019, but there are a lot of things that have to go in to place.  So that is the goal. But a lot of things can happen by then. We may find gold on that place. HaHa.

Tim: How many developments has Sofran done?

Roy: Well, we have been around since 1980. Primarily, developing Kroger. They are all listed on our website. Several million square feet of shopping centers through time. We have done everything; Kroger, Wal-Mart and Publix - you name it!

Tim: Do you know how many parking spots there will be?

Roy: No, the site plan is going to be completely redone. We will maintain a parking ratio, hopefully in excess of the minimum required by the county. That’s something we try to do. If we have a choice, we over-park it. We do have some problems with municipalities that have maximum, so even though we would like to over park it, the cities themselves will not let us over park it. So we have to go get a variance so we can have a higher parking ratio.

Tim: In terms of Villa Rica, do you think that will be an issue?

Roy: That will not be a problem. Places like Gwinnett County like to have green space. We try to do that as well, with landscape islands and green space.

Tim: Sounds like it will be a really nice development. And good for Villa Rica.

Tim: How big is the site in terms of acreage?

Roy: We are not planning to take down the entire property all at once. Approximately, 26 acres in potential phase one.

Tim: I’m sure there are still zillions of things to take care of.

Roy: Luckily I am only the leasing and sales guy. Our development manager has to deal with all of the intricacies and minutia associated with entitlements, and cities and politics.

Tim: He probably has a 500-count bottle of Excedrin sitting by his desk.

Roy: He had to go get glasses this year. His paperwork load is stacked to the ceiling.

Tim: I’m sure there are so many regulations.

Roy: And we anticipate it.  Luckily Villa Rica has a fairly amenable climate to progress.

Tim: I really appreciate you talking to me that was great information! Please keep me up to date. It’s good for us as a magazine to be able to get the word out about new and exciting things.

Roy: You now officially know more than anybody else about this development. HaHa

Tim: HaHa That makes me feel good. Thanks again so much!

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