Two multi–million dollar developments proposed
Both to be near Rite Aid
By Dianne Yost
Despite a slowing U.S. economy, Madison remains attractive for commercial development – so attractive in fact two commercial real estate developers are proposing multi-million dollar developments behind and next to the Rite Aid Pharmacy building which encompasses among the county’s highest traffic areas at Highway 441/Eatonton Highway and the Madison bypass.
Together, these proposed developments if constructed would create more than 67,000 square feet of commercial space. Cornerstone Development Partners LLC, an Atlanta-based commercial real estate developer specializing in free standing, single and multi-tenant retail, restaurant and office space, is looking to develop Madison Village, three out-parcels and a 45,000 square foot multi-tenant development, behind Rite Aid on the bypass just before the intersection of Highway 441. Madison Exchange, proposed by Athens-based Madison Project LLC and Randolph Norton Real Estate Group, will be a 22,000-square-foot project located on Highway 441 next to Rite Aid and directly across from Lowe’s.
According to Hank Randolph of Madison Project and Randolph Norton Real Estate Group, Madison is especially appealing because the baby boom population segment is retiring they are attracted to Morgan County. “Madison is a diamond . . . like a Norman Rockwell painting. You’ve got a great little thing going there,” Randolph said. His proposed development, Madison Exchange, is projected to cost $2.8 million and the 3.17-acre parcel was purchased for $1 million.
Randolph says the multi-tenant retail space will house between nine and 11 businesses, and he’s hoping to anchor the end-caps with two restaurants because the sites will have patio areas perfect for dining. “We’re also looking at service industry businesses like UPS, H&R Block and other independently owned businesses.” For example, he says Five Guys Burgers & Fries has expressed some interest and he’s discussed the project with a women and children’s clothier among other businesses.
The site is directly across the street from Lowe’s and offers potential retailers great visibility. Madison Exchange will feature a clock tower and it will be configured in an L-shaped design with full frontage on Highway 441. “We’re still grading the site and would like to start construction in the fall if leasing efforts are where we want them to be,” Randolph explained. But, while he says leasing is slow right now, the site is directly across from Lowe’s on a major thoroughfare offering businesses optimum visibility.
According to Cornerstone Development owner and partner Mark Reiner, Cornerstone is developing a 13-acre site at the intersection of Eatonton Highway and the bypass with three out- parcels and a multi-retail site with some 45,000 square feet. All of this will be tied together under the Madison Village umbrella. While the company has not submitted site plans to the City of Madison, Reiner said Cornerstone, which developed the Rite Aid building, is already looking for potential tenants and he believes the out parcels will be particularly attractive to banks and restaurants. “It’s the highest traffic area in the county and also serves as a regional draw from surrounding cities and counties. Many free-standing retail businesses are attracted to out-parcels located near mega retail sites like Lowe’s and Wal-Mart. It’s one of the most predominant sites for commercial real estate in Morgan County because it offers great visibility, access and exposure,” he said.
While acknowledging that the country is in a bit of a slump, Reiner just attended an industry symposium highlighting Georgia and Atlanta’s economic status and was happy to learn that the Atlanta area is among the top markets in the country that is stable. “Throughout Georgia it appears that housing increases are up at the same rate as income and that’s good for our economy,” Reiner said. Many economists believe the country is already in recession, but Reiner says his commercial site offers retailers the perfect location for this economy because by the time the site is built out the recession will likely be over. Historically, recessions in the U.S. last approximately 10 months. Reiner believes this provides retailers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of an improving economic climate. “Perfect timing,” says Reiner.