Retail Real Estate Market Q4 2007

Retailers and Industry continue to move into our area. Investors are looking intently at our region. There are numerous projects in the works. Why are we enjoying this prosperity? For one, the real estate dollar goes a long way in our area compared to other areas around our region. For another, Atlanta sprawl moves closer everyday. Additionally, we are enjoying a spirit of renewed optimism over the upcoming change in government. And finally, we enjoy over 600,000 tourists visiting our cities every year.

When’s the last time you drove by the new shopping centers on Riverside Drive, Bass Road, or Russell Parkway? If you haven’t been by there in the past few weeks, the landscape is changing by the minute. Hartley Bridge Road at the interstate is going crazy too. New fast food restaurants, McDonald’s and Zaxby’s are coming out of the ground on Hartley Bridge as well as new ramps for the interstate.

Developers are looking here for bargains, our industrial authorities, and county governments.  Economic development authorities are working hard to entice business, industry, and developers to locate here and they have been successful in their efforts. Twiggs County has an Academy Sports distribution center locating there… this translates into 200 to 380 employees. Monroe County has over 600 acres of industrial property spread throughout the county, and continues to develop the Tift College area with the Department of Corrections. Jones County has a 500 acre site available for industrial use, one of only a few this size in the state. Houston County continues to prosper with the Air Force looking at expansion programs on swapped land to their north. Perry and Warner Robins retail continues to expand and now include Longhorn’s in Perry and Kohl’s, Circuit City, and a new Kroger in Warner Robins, and there are over 57 subdivisions in the development stage. Peach County has added Camping World and has 11 new subdivisions under development. Bibb County has added 1.2 million square feet of industrial space since 2005; most recently, Nichiha has moved to Avondale Mill Road, where they make fiber cement building product.

Those who live in the Jonesboro Road area subdivisions have discovered how much easier it is to shop in Macon instead of Atlanta. So while they may be working in Atlanta they prefer to make more efficient use of their leisure time in the Macon area. I’ve heard that 10% of the rush hour traffic on I-75 is commuters from/to Atlanta/Macon. People prefer to live here and work in Atlanta. The subdivision growth in our area proves this.

Since the primary elections, outsiders are taking a second look at Macon… is the downtown area about to enjoy a resurgence? Many of the new downtown property owners have continued the refrain of the city having reached its “tipping point,” the point at which businesses and home owners will be attracted to relocating back to the city to operate and live, rather than commute to and from the suburbs. At this point, the city will grow in numbers rather than diminish in population. With our historic buildings and beautiful wide streetscapes, nothing this side of Savannah compares to the architecture and sights we have available in our downtown. Some argue that our downtown would prosper more quickly if there were activities where people would stay longer in the area. When was the last time you were downtown for an evening?

Tourism is the number two industry in our state. Retailers would do well to take advantage of the tourism market; our cities would do well to take advantage of the tourism dollar. Macon and Warner Robins are rich in tourist attractions, our museums are world class. We need to be asking what we can do to extend their visits and keep those tourist dollars in our cities, even if only a day longer.

 

John Strohofer
Commercial Real Estate Agent
Macon Commercial Office
478-746-9421