Potential opening date of summer of 2020 – renderings available
The wheels of government and development move slowly, but it appears that the City of Monroe is one step closer to having a groundbreaking on a major retail development that will include a premier grocery store and retail shopping center.
The Monroe City Council voted Tuesday on a Memorandum of Understanding between the City and MAB American LLC, the Rowell Family Partnership LLLP and Jane J. Still. This MOU is designed to help get all the infrastructure in place to enable construction on the Monroe Pavilion to begin next year to be ready for occupation by the summer of 2020.
“There is a second phase on the right-hand side of those that is slated for 2021,” said John Argo, the principal developer of MAB American – the company developing the retail center. “This is a big revenue generator – a big cash register for the entire community. We’ve got hotels, restaurants, all kinds of retail. We have commitments from food, fashion, beauty, pet stores – all those things that people now go to Athens and Bethlehem for. It will keep those tax dollars here at home.”
Argo said the primary anchor is a premier grocery chain store that he was looking forward to being able to name, along with the other stores that had committed to the development. But first, Argo said, was the infrastructure that needed to be in place.
“Here in Monroe you have a great business climate, but you need to walk before you run and one of the essentials, before you develop, is infrastructure,” he said, adding the basic utilities and road system need to be in place in order to finalize any commitments. “Retailers need to know that we can build the shopping center that we presented to them.”
He said the MOU is a necessary step to getting some concessions from the city to ensure that the infrastructure is in place – technically a “firm handshake” between the parties to get the development going.
“Our goal is building the shopping center,” Argo said. “But we have to bring water to the site, we have to bring sewer to the site and we have to have road improvements. We have to start way back here first.”
Argo said the investment is $80 million to $100 million and it expects to bring in $100 million a year in revenue, with more than $1 million of that in tax revenue, from the 60 to 70 business that it will bring in.
“I am looking forward to sharing with you a number of groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings,” he said. “I appreciate the city’s willingness to solicit support for the MOU. The next step is to get retailer commitments in place to where they can be announced publicly.
After a vote was taken on the MOU, Monroe Mayor John Howard expressed appreciation for the Rowell’s vision for the City. The development is slated for property north of Highway 78 going out on Highway 11 towards Winder that is owned by the Rowell family.
After everything went quiet for several months following the excitement of the initial announcement in January 2016, the city took another step toward making it happen last year when it approved the exchange of 1.339 acres of city property for 1.136 acres of property owned by Ayefour Development, Inc., Rowell Family Partnership, LLP and Still Family Reality. The exchange was for a new roadway to be built “to improve road connectivity, reduce congestion and improve surface thoroughfare and ‘square-up’ potential commercial development lots.”
Tuesday’s action brings it another step closer and the first time a potential opening date of mid-2020 has actually been mentioned. The sign announcing the development of Monroe Pavilion still stands just off Highway 78 and Charlotte Rowell Blvd. The community is looking forward to seeing it move off the sign and begin taking shape on the ground.