Columbia County looking to bring residents closer to more local shops and restaurants

Friday, Sept. 13, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Busy roads: check. Parks: check. Family-friendly neighborhoods: check. Columbia County says they've been successful getting families in, now, they want them to stay.

They plan to spend half a billion in the next five years on infrastructure and millions on the quality of life.

Kitana Rodriguez is excited to be a small part of the massive growth in Columbia County.

"The community would not be here without all the businesses around," Rodriguez said. "The park used to never be there and now they host everything at Lady A, so it's definitely changed a lot since I've grown up here and I've lived here my whole life."

Rodriguez is a hair stylist at Studio 285, one of the businesses inside Evans Trade Center. The plans for this spot are the first of its kind in Columbia County with apartments on the top and retail on the bottom.

"I think you'll see the landscape change a little instead of just having the destination retail strip shopping," Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson said.

The county is flooded with shopping centers and businesses are filling up empty spaces left and right. But while the foundation is here, Johnson says the focus now is on making all of it feel more like home.

"You'll see that theme continue as we move into the downtown area," Johnson said. "As we move into phase two and phase three, you'll continue to see that retail component. It's really focused on the local and regional type retailer."

And over at the Plaza shopping center, you'll find the beginning of what commissioners hope is a new type of living, one with local shops and restaurants.

"We've had the idea of a hotel floated around," Johnson said. "We had the idea of additional activities like a bowling alley, something like that, it'll be up to the private developer."

That leaves the future wide open for developers to get creative.

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