And even more new restaurants and stores are planning to build on 19 at Forrester Parkway. Developers held a good news lunch today and said the recession is easing and more business is ready to commit to locating near a Publix that's soon to be built.
Many will remember when construction began at the intersection of Forrester Parkway and Highway 19 called Forrester Crossings two years ago, then the recession hit and everything stopped. Workers just filled the site with wood chips, but Friday developers promised in the next year to turn these chips into solid buildings and local jobs.
With the foundation nearly ready for the new Publix's grocery store it's easy to see why Lee County commissioners call Forrester Parkway and Highway 19 Lee County's new commercial hub.
"Publics is the lynchpin for other things to come and we'll piggy back off of that," said William Hancock, Webb Properties Owner.
Across the intersection along Forrester Parkway promises are expected to turn into business by next year.
"We have a drug store that's really close to finalizing a deal with us, we'll know in the next month or so and a couple of restaurants," said Hancock.
Both fast food and family style sit down dining are in the works, along with Ameris and Heritage Bank branches and the promise of other retail development in the Publix plaza.
"I think there will be retail units, approximately 10 is what I understand," said Buck Anderson, the developer.
Developers say Highway 19's four lanes expansion from Atlanta to Thomasville is driving development. New development will also drive Lee County's bottom line.
"The only way we'll ever be put in a position not to raise the property taxes is to invite commercial development to come to Lee County and increase out local option sales tax," said Ed Duffy, Lee County Commission Chairman.
State officials say when counties like Lee, Dougherty, and Terrell approach development from a regional prospective it works.
"We don't want to lose those individuals that are workforce ready and as much industry as we can bring in, as many business that we can bring in we're happy to have them," said Senator Freddie Powell Sims, (D)-Albany.
Eventually adding up to area jobs.
The possibilities in the area are unlimited when you consider there's about 850 acres of industrial property from the rail site, to land zoned for residential development behind that, to the commercial corridor here along Highway 19.
Lee County spent millions of dollars upgrading the county's infrastructure along Forrester Parkway, Ledo Road, and Highway 82 in anticipation of new development.
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