Shoppers will travel Avenue
By Tony Lombardo| Staff Writer
Thursday, November 17, 2005

Augusta shoppers will be busy come 2007.

The Avenue Furys Ferry, the latest of three major upscale shopping centers announced in recent months, is set to open in west Augusta on the Richmond-Columbia County line.

Commercial real estate developer Cousins Properties Inc. has already established "The Avenue" lifestyle center concepts in metro Atlanta, California, Florida and Tennessee.

The Avenue concept combines "premiere national retailers, select local merchants and specialty restaurants," according to the Atlanta-based company's Web site.

Construction plans for the proposed shopping center, near River Watch Parkway and Furys Ferry Road, have not yet been submitted to either Richmond or Columbia county, officials said.

The International Council of Shopping Centers classifies The Avenue as a lifestyle center, a development containing upscale shops in an open-air setting similar to a streetscape.

It is the third lifestyle center announced this year.

The Village at Riverwatch, located farther east on River Watch Parkway, is an 800,000-square-foot project anchored by Belk and Dillard's stores. Last month, Augusta Mall announced an open-air "lifestyle village" to be built alongside the mall.

Both projects are expected to be completed in mid- to late 2007.

A sign at The Avenue Furys Ferry site says it is scheduled to open in summer 2007. A Cousins Properties spokesman declined to comment on the project.

Jimmy Harrison, an Augusta-based Realtor representing the Adams Family Trust of Augusta, one the property's owners, said Cousins Properties is under contract to purchase the 35-acre site.

Mr. Harrison said the developer is performing a pre-purchase inspection of the property.

"While they are doing that, they have to start trying to get tenants lined up," he said.

All six existing Avenue centers include an Ann Taylor, a Talbots and a large bookstore that is either a Borders, Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million.

Other shops featured in some Avenue centers include Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chico's and Abercrombie & Fitch.

The size of the three Avenue centers in Atlanta range from 182,000-230,000 square feet.

Cousins Properties has been interested in the property for more than a year, said Mr. Harrison, whose son, Ben, of Sherman and Hemstreet LLC, represents the Watkins family of Augusta, the property's other owner.

Avid shopper Helen Paris says lifestyle centers are "the wave of the future," so she is happy to see three planned for Augusta in 2007.

"It's out in the air," she said. "Malls just feel closed in. It's just the ambience of (lifestyle centers) that I think is so great."

She only has one request from the developers: Pottery Barn.

Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or tony.lombardo@augustachronicle.com.

The Avenue projects

Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc. has created shopping centers using its "Avenue" concept across the country, including the following in Georgia:

The Avenue East Cobb, Marietta

Size: 230,454 square feet

Opened: 1999

Merchants include: Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Pottery Barn and Panera Bread

The Avenue West Cobb, Marietta

Size: 205,000 square feet with a 45,000-square-foot expansion for fall 2006

Opened: 2003

Merchants include: Barnes & Noble, Chico's, Cold Stone Creamery and Sharper Image

The Avenue Peachtree City, Peachtree City

Size: 182,215 square feet

Opened: 2001

Merchants include: Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Liz Claiborne Shoes and Starbucks

The Avenue Webb Gin, Snellville

Size: 366,000 square feet of retail, 19,000 square feet of office space

Opening: Fall 2006

Now leasing

Source: www.theavenuealist.com

From the Thursday, November 17, 2005 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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